The songbook of the motorcar club: Mercedes-Benz Museum Inside No. 6/2020
- A songbook named “Der Autler” (an obsolete German word for a motorist) was created to promote social interaction amongst motorists in Germany in the early days of personal mobility
- It was published in 1902 by the Allgemeiner Schnauferl-Club (ASC) (Schnauferl is the motorcar equivalent of a Puffing Billy steam locomotive)
- Motoring clubs as catalysts of social acceptance of the motorcar
- “33 Extras”: Exhibits of automotive culture at the Mercedes-Benz Museum
Stuttgart. 160 vehicles and a total of 1,500 exhibits are presented in the diverse permanent exhibition of the Mercedes-Benz Museum. The “33 Extras” are a particular highlight: They can bring the history of personal mobility and motoring culture to life using details that are often surprising. The Mercedes-Benz Museum Inside newsletter series draws attention to the “33 Extras” and focuses on their background stories. Today’s issue covers the songbook.
6/33: The songbook
1 – “Der Autler”: In 1902, the Allgemeiner Schnauferl-Club (ASC) founded two years earlier published the songbook entitled “Der Autler”. It cost one Reichsmark. All the songs included here were written about the still very young invention of the motorcar. They were intended to liven up both leisure-time celebrations as well as cater to festive occasions. But why not join together in song while out driving? This is in keeping with what the Roman poet Vergil once wrote: “Let us sing as far as the road takes us: That will make the journey less troublesome.” The world’s first industrially manufactured car radio was not launched until 1927.
2 – Organisation: Thanks to their activities, motoring clubs have contributed to the development of the car from sports equipment status to a general means of transport. As early as 1897, the “Mitteleuropäische Motorwagen Verein” (Central European Motorcar Club) was founded in Berlin as the first German motoring club. Gottlieb Daimler and Carl Benz were among its founding members. Daimler was also a member of the Allgemeiner Schnauferl-Club (ASC), which was founded in 1900, and Benz was named an “Honorary Schnauferl Brother” in 1925.
3 – Companionship: The early motoring clubs were committed to sporting, social and societal goals. The purpose of the songbook “Der Autler” was to promote social interaction between the members at their meetings and “Schnauferl celebrations” and, at the same time, to establish the motorcar firmly in society.
4 – Designation: “Aut” – this abbreviated term for an “automobile” was coined by the ASC. Using this stem, the association’s logic continued, one could easily form other words. In the same way as the English words “cyclist” and “motorist” have been coined. And that is why the songbook was given that title. The title page illustration showed a representation of a “Motorpheus”: A motorist with a lyre.
5 – Rousing melodies: The lyrics in the songbook are based on well-known melodies of the times. For example, following the example of the Lorelei song “I don’t know what it means”, the “Autler” parody reads “I know exactly what it means / That I am so happy. / There is nothing more exciting to me: I can think of nothing other than my motorcar.”
6 – And today? Digital radio and smartphones have long since replaced the songbook as entertainment media in cars. However, motoring clubs still exist. More than 80 officially recognised Mercedes-Benz brand clubs that exist on all continents, for example, provide a forum for this shared passion. Even though club members today are hardly likely to indulge in singing together, numerous activities and events coordinated by Mercedes-Benz Classic keep this worldwide community together (https://www.mercedes-benz.com/de/classic/brand-clubs/).