Mercedes Thinks BMW’s 100th Anniversary Is Adorable

Because a chance to troll your rival only comes along once a century.

BMW 100th Anniversary
Photo by Daimler-Benz AG / ullstein picture via Getty Images

Visitors to Germany can currently experience a rare celestial event, whereby a shadow extends from Stuttgart to the Bavarian capital of Munich, some 140 miles away. The Germans have a name for this phenomenon, and it’s not some inscrutable, umlaut-strewn construction with no English equivalent. It translates essentially this: shadethrown. Apropos of BMW’s 100-year anniversary, the Mercedes boffins of Stuttgart have invited BMW employees to visit Mercedes’ museum frei of charge until the 13th. What better way to exalt in your company’s centenary than by stewing in your arch rival’s rarest juices?

The offer, magnanimous on the face of it, contains a few less-than-giving qualifications. Without calling out any individual BMW models or milestones, Mercedes acknowledges that its rival contributed “to Germany's excellent international reputation in the automotive industry.” So fulsome! It also mentions that BMW employees lucky enough to actually own an Ultimate Driving Machine will get free parking atop the museum’s hillside. No miscegenating with the Opels and Škodas in the parking lot for these swells. This is all petty preamble, however, to what may be the biggest backhanded compliment since Pope John Paul II described Jews as Christians’ “elder brothers”—never mind the theological ramifications of Abel being favored over Cain:

The founding of BMW occurred in the eventful early heyday of automotive history: 30 years before, Carl Benz and Gottlieb Daimler had invented the automobile independently of one another in 1886. And ten years later, Daimler-Benz AG arose with the new Mercedes-Benz brand from the amalgamation of Benz & Cie. and Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft (DMG).

Essentially, “Congratulations. Also you’ll never be older, or greater, than we are.”

But it’s not all hollow gestures and subtextual grandstanding. In addition to the free museum admission, Mercedes is inviting the first 50 BMW employees who pass through its museum’s doors “to partake of a Swabian speciality citing the double kidney shape of the signature BMW radiator grille.” Without boots on the ground to confirm, The Drive is speculating this delicacy will take the form of two kidney beans, uncooked.

Happy birthday, Bimmer.