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Kemp Auto Museum 300SL gulling
Kemp Auto Museum 1939 540K
Kemp Auto Museum
Kemp Auto Museum 1935 500K
Kemp Auto Museum Trabant
Kemp Auto Museum Karmann Ghia
Kemp Auto Museum Super Beetle
Kemp Auto Museum Silver Shadow
Kemp Auto Museum
Kemp Auto Museum
Kemp Auto Museum Porsche 944
Kemp Auto Museum 1986 190E
Kemp Auto Museum 1959 190SL
Kemp Auto Museum 1999 SL600
Kemp Auto Museum 1952 300 Cabriolet
Kemp Auto Museum 1951 170S Cabriolet
Kemp Auto Museum 1960 220SE Cabriolet
1960 220SE Coupe  Kemp Auto Museum
Kemp Auto Museum 1959 220SE Sedan
Kemp Auto Museum Bentley
Kemp Auto Museum
Kemp Auto Museum
Kemp Auto Museum

Kemp Auto Museum, Chesterfield, Mo.

Kemp Auto MuseumI have traveled to Stuttgart, Germany, several times in the past few years to worship at the altar of my favorite carmaker in its stunning, multifloor museum and showroom. I had no idea until recently that an impressive Mercedes-Benz collection was on this side of the pond, too.

1935 Mercedes-Benz 500KThe Kemp Auto Museum is along a growing corridor of restaurants and shopping centers about 25 miles due west of downtown St. Louis. On a road that parallels U.S. 40 in Chesterfield, Mo., the museum and its adjacent garage on first glance could easily be mistaken for a warehouse or distribution center. It actually was Sachs Electric Co. until its president donated the building and land for the museum’s creation. The first hint of what’s inside is a full-scale replica of a classic 1930s 500K roadster on a plaza between the buildings.

The museum houses the collection of Fred M. Kemp Sr., a St. Louis developer and homebuilder, who bought his first Mercedes, a 190SL, in 1958. He collected more than 40 classic cars over the next few decades; when he died in 2004, the collection was donated to the museum, which opened the following year.

Ponton Mercedes collection medium redInside, the spotlight is solely on the cars. The main exhibition hall has a black ceiling, gray-and-black walls, and a polished black floor that shows a mirror image of each car. Among the impressive classics are a 1954 300SL Gullwing, a 1959 190SL roadster, and what is thought to be the only collection of all three cars in the 220SE Ponton body style — cabriolet, coupe, and sedan — finished in the same original color: 516 Medium Red.

The collection is not only Mercedes cars. There’s also a communist-era Trabant from the former East Germany and a 1964 Citroën 2CV from France. Porsche, Volkswagen, Rolls-Royce, and Bentley also are represented.Though most cars are part of the permanent collection, cars are loaned from other collections too. It’s a great stop — and much easier to get to than Germany.

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