The story behind the largest independent Mercedes tuner, Brabus
Brabus has been redefining the word ’extreme’ for over 40 years - here’s how!
The story of Brabus is incredible. What started off as the brainchild of someone who despised Mercedes soon turned into one most successful independent tuning company for the German automaker.
Today, they are most famous for making Mercedes’ most extreme cars even more extreme. With cars such as the Brabus 900 Rocket, a 4-door saloon which can accelerate from 0-62mph in just 2.8 seconds, Brabus really is in a league of its own. But how on earth did it all start?
The year was 1977 and Bodo Buschmann was a law student whose parents owned a Mercedes-Benz dealership - they were certainly far from poor. This meant that, at the young age of just 22, Bodo was driving around in a Porsche 911.
Often, Bodo would park his car outside of his parents’ dealership and so, inevitably, his father told him that he couldn’t park a Porsche outside of his Mercedes dealership for obvious reasons. And so, it was time for Bodo to get himself a Mercedes. He opted for an S-Class, a car which was - and still is - the pinnacle of automotive luxury. However, Buschmann was not a fan of the car’s performance. Because of this, Bodo began to look for mechanics to modify his car.
Unfortunately for young law student, nobody was willing to upgrade the car’s performance - this forced Buschmann to carry out the modifications himself.
The finished product was a car which had all the luxuries of an S-Class but with the performance of a sports car. Now, Bodo’s S-Class was actually faster than his beloved Porsche.
Like with his Porsche, Bodo would park his special S-Class outside of his parents’ dealership and eventually, customers started to become rather curious about the creation. This was when Bodo Buschmann realised that he could start a company which could give Benz customers those extra thrills that they were looking for.
However, starting a company in Germany required two founders at the time - Bodo approached his classmate, Klaus Brackman, for help. The two made a decision to combine the first three letters of each of their surnames and just like that, Brabus was born. Due to a lack of interest, Brackmann almost immediately sold his half of the company to Bodo for just 100 Euros.
This left Buschmann on his own though this really wasn’t an issue for him. His parents allowed him to manage Brabus from their dealership. Soon, Buschmann became quite famous for tuning, especially with the S-Class. Brabus vehicles were not just ahead of their competitors, but they were also ahead of their time. By 1982, Brabus was already fitting their cars with TVs and multimedia systems. The following year, Brabus was successful enough to have a dedicated showroom.
Getting noticed by Bugatti
Bugatti noticed what Brabus was doing and decided to make them their official tuner in 1994. Unfortunately, this partnership was short-lived as Bugatti were forced to cut all ties with Brabus when the French automaker was bought by the VW group in 1998.
In the 4 years, Brabus only managed to tune one car and it was none other than the EB110 SS. Just 31 EB110 SSs were built and only one received Brabus upgrades although these upgrades are not as substantial as you may think. With 615hp, the EB110 SS was already a fast car so Brabus couldn’t really do that much. Experts say that the power output in the Brabus version is no more than 630hp.
Going for their own records
Brabus had already broken numerous records but it was during the 2000s when they really started to show the world what they were capable of.
In 2006, the Brabus Rocket was unveiled. Based on the stylish Mercedes CLS, it’s got a 6.3-litre V12 engine which produces an incredible 720hp. The German Federal Traffic Ministry teamed up with Brabus to create the ‘Tune it Safe’ program. In order to promote this, Brabus produced a one-off police car version of the Rocket!
The car once hit 225.2mph in October of 2006, setting a new record for the fastest street-legal saloon. Later on that same month, Brabus broke their own record as they hit 227.2mph using the same car.
However, one year before both of these records were set, another car set a record for the highest top speed of any street-legal saloon... and it was another Brabus except it wasn’t the Rocket.
Brabus took a 2005 W21 series E-Class and modified it slightly to improve performance. Modifications included an engine displacement increase to 6.3 litres, two new turbochargers and a stainless steel exhaust. Dubbed the Brabus E V12 BiTurbo, its engine produces 730hp. So, when the top speed was tested, the E V12 BiTurbo hit 217mph.
The most extreme SUVs
While all this was going on, Brabus was also busy modifying SUVs, most notably, the G-Class. The first iteration of the Brabus G was the Brabus G 3.6 but it’s when Brabus started to use modified V12s that the desire saw a huge increase.
Then, super exclusive cars such as the G 63 6x6 AMG Brabus 700 were also produced. The name was long, but not as long as the car’s wheelbase because it was based on the Mercedes-Benz G63 AMG 6x6.
This was an already exclusive and powerful car but Brabus didn’t think it was enough. With 700 horsepower and 960 Nm torque, the Brabus 6x6 redefined the word ‘monster’. But, it was not the specs or the price of the car that makes it so cool. Instead, it was Brabus’ sheer determination to go as far as possible with a car - they took one of the most extreme vehicles on the road and somehow made it even more extreme.
Other cars such as the 800 horsepower Brabus 800 Adventure XLP, an SUV which quite literally has a 150mph drone on the back of it, are also examples of Brabus’ obsession with choosing to build the most extreme cars possible.
Brabus wants to do all they can to ensure customer satisfaction. All of their engines are hand built and all their cars even come with a three year warranty.
The only thing is that, if you wish to join the exclusive Brabus owner’s club, you’ll need a rather sizable bank account. When they were first sold in 2006, customers were paying close to $450,000 for the 227mph Brabus Rocket. And that 800 horsepower 4x4 with the drone on the back? It starts from £395,786 though the example shown at the Geneva Motor Show costs £677,312.
So, giving your car the Brabus treatment certainly won’t be cheap but when you’re doing things that nobody else is even thinking of doing, you can’t really price your cars any differently.
To conclude, it is not the performance of their cars which is responsible for the adoration of Brabus, it’s their drive to be different.