Title: First Mercedes-Benz assembled in the Philippines
This was made possible after trade relations betweent the Philippines and West Germany resumed in 1955, with the signing of the temporary trade protocol
Source: The Photo Archive of the Filipinas Heritage Library
As early as 1955, Mercedes-Benz had established a presence in the Philippines by selecting the country as the site for its first vehicle assembly plant outside of Germany.
If motoring during the early part of the century, particularly during the pre-war years, was dominated by American marques, the arrival of Mercedes-Benz in mid-century signaled the start of a love affair between the Filipino and the 3-point Star that continues until today. The image of exclusivity, quality and value that Mercedes-Benz brought forth was difficult to resist to the Filipino car-buyer looking for alternatives. It was not long before Manila’s streets were filled with Pontons in domestic use as family cars as well as in practical use as taxicabs.
It was the age of the ‘Silver Arrows’ and Filipinos were not left behind in their appreciation of Mercedes-Benz’s success in motorsports. Occasionally, a few coupes, Adenauers and roadsters found their way into the homes of wealthy families, with socialites at the wheel, their presence contributing to the sophisticated and elegant image of the marque.
Even in the age of the ‘70s and ‘80s where the fuel crisis mandated the need for smaller, cheaper and more fuel efficient automobiles, the Mercedes-Benz brand defended its niche, it’s quality and engineering guaranteeing that although priced higher, they would outlast most of the cars of that period. While sales did increase for the Japanese cars, the owners never did find enough reasons to let go of their Mercedes-Benzes. Same could not be said for the American brands which eventually disappeared from Philippine roads.
Today, the constant high visibility mix of classic and late-model Mercedes-Benzes on Philippine roads are a testament to the quality and engineering of the Mercedes-Benz vehicle. Not surprisingly, the ‘Modern Classics’ or pre-1990 models continue to be in demand by car owners looking for better value than what is currently available, joining the ranks of current Mercedes-Benz owners who already know this fact.
It all began when auto enthusiasts Johan Limcangco (past-Chairman) and Tippee Yaptinchay (past-President) were individually active in an online Mercedes discussion site. For months, these two traded maintenance tips, technical concerns, historical facts, etc with other Mercedes-Benz owners from around the world. Inevitably, these two stumbled into each other on the discussion board and decided to form a group of local Mercedes-Benz enthusiasts. It was on January 8, 2000 when a small group first met at the Alabang Town Center, thereby forming the nucleus of the club. However, it was not until February 2001 that the Club significantly grew in size and activity. In 2006, the Club was formally registered as a non-stock, non-profit organization.
The Mercedes-Benz Club Philippines has come a long way since. A major milestone in the Club’s history was reached in 2006 when it was granted accreditation by the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart, through Mercedes-Benz Classic Car Club International (MBCCCI), the governing body of all Mercedes-Benz car clubs around the world, with CATS Motors, the official Mercedes-Benz dealer as sponsor.
The Mercedes-Benz Club Philippines continues to host various types of meetings, fun-runs and car displays, as it has done since inception. In every event, the membership coming from various backgrounds and age group all assemble in a relaxed atmosphere of automobile talk, dominated by what else but Mercedes-Benz talk!
It is this fascination for the Mercedes-Benz marque coupled with known Filipino hospitality that makes MBCP a special home for the Filipino Mercedes-Benz enthusiast.