The Story of the Mercedes-Benz ESF 13 – Experiment for Safety From 50 Years Ago

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The Mercedes-Benz cars are some of the world’s safest. The premium carmaker makes no compromise in terms of safety regardless of the segment the models slot in. But this chase started so many decades ago. And the Mercedes-Benz ESF 13 was a step along the way.

The Mercedes-Benz ESF 13 premiered 50 years ago at the mobility trade fair Transpo 72 in Washington D.C. The event welcomed around one million visitors from all over the world.

The “ESF” lettering stood for Experimental Safety Vehicle. The prototype was way ahead of its time. It had anti-lock brake system ABS, airbags for all seats onboard, a halogen-based lighting system and parallel wipers for the rear window.

The company’s engineers developed it as part of a safety program. This particular prototype is on display at the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart, in Legend Room 5. The program did not stop in 1973. The ESF 2009 and ESF 2019 also saw the light of day.

And as we know, the carmaker has been debuting several safety systems unheard of in the car industry. The W223 S-Class, for instance, was the first-ever car to get front airbags for the rear passengers. Now the company’s engineers are conducting research into possible crash scenarios involving autonomous cars.

Mercedes-Benz ESF 113, the prototype that previewed series production features

The ESF 113 came as a further development of the ESF 05, which Mercedes had revealed two years before. For upgraded passive safety, the car came with various components clad with foamed parts. Three-point safety belts with belt force limiters and head restraints were on the front seats, fastening automatically with the door closure. Mercedes built a safety steering wheel with impact absorber and airbags. There were also airbags for the rear passengers. The rear occupants also benefitted from the presence of three-point safety belts with belt force limiters and inertia reels.

The company’s engineers designed the Mercedes-Benz ESF 13 for impact speeds of up to 80 km/h. It was 5,235 millimeters long and weighed 2,100 kilograms.