Mercedes 220 SE on the Spa race track

We celebrate a significant anniversary

We has been supplying Mercedes-Benz with gas-pressure shocks for 60 years

Already in 1957, just three years after the engineers of BILSTEIN had developed the first gas-pressure shock absorber according to the De-Carbon principle, the breakthrough was achieved: At Mercedes-Benz, the decision was made to use the innovative products from Ennepetal in series production. Even then, the BILSTEIN gas-pressure shock absorbers were convincing due to their constant damping performance as well as the high quality and durability. For 60 years now, the German car manufacturers have relied on the proven BILSTEIN products.

In those days, the monthly production volume was only 3,000 shock absorbers. Mercedes-Benz first exclusively used them in the Mercedes 300 d. Unlike the previously used oil shock absorbers, the BILSTEIN gas-pressure shock absorber had a constant damping performance, since the use of nitrogen prevents shock absorber oil from foaming. Thanks to the constancy and stable characteristic, it was possible for the first time to adapt suspension to different road conditions. Accordingly, these shock absorbers also became interesting to motor racing, since the characteristics of race tracks could now be adequately met, which in some cases led to a decisive advantage for the victory.

As such, BILSTEIN has also been able to look back on a success story in motorsport since early 1960s. BILSTEIN shock absorbers had the first victories in the rally sport in 1960. At that time, Walter Schock and his co-driver Rolf Moll won the 29th Rally Monte Carlo in a Mercedes 220 SE equipped with BILSTEIN gas-pressure shock absorbers. Also second and third places went to Mercedes, likewise on BILSTEIN. Even then, the technical superiority of the new shock absorbers from Ennepetal was evident and the company was able to acquire an early reputation in various motorsport classes. For example, BILSTEIN shock absorbers were installed for the first time in Formula-1 racing cars in 1961, though then in Porsche, and nowadays they cannot be dispensed with in racing.

What is special about the long-standing partnership between BILSTEIN and Mercedes-Benz is the close cooperation in development. BILSTEIN also designed innovative and perfectly tuned suspension solutions for today’s models. Since 1999, for example, Mercedes-Benz S-Class, starting with type W220, vehicles have been operating with an air suspension system from BILSTEIN. From 2002 onwards, the air suspension module for the Mercedes-Benz E-Class was also produced.

Silver Mercedes E 500 AMG Avantgarde
Mercedes 220 SE on the Spa race track

Even in future, BILSTEIN’s innovative strength and expertise will continue to be reliable. For the current type W222 of the Mercedes-Benz S-class, for example, BILSTEIN supplies the air suspension system AIRMATIC ADS PLUS with stepless damping control. Based on different vehicle data, the system can individually adjust the damping force for each wheel within milliseconds. In this way, driving comfort, driving safety and agility can be better matched. Various air suspension systems from BILSTEIN, such as AIRMATIC ADS PLUS, are also optional not only in upper-class vehicles but also in the Mercedes-Benz C-Class.

Left: Cutaway view B14 air suspension module Right: Full view B14 air suspension module

In addition to air suspension systems and electronically controlled shock absorbers, BILSTEIN supplies also conventional shock-absorber models for current series at Mercedes-Benz. For example, in the form of the amplitude-selective damping force adjustment system AGILITY CONTROL for the C- and E-Class. The company from Ennepetal is already making an important contribution to the future viability and diversity of the Mercedes-Benz suspension portfolio. As in the past 60 years, BILSTEIN will continue to supply advanced and mature products to Mercedes, for the standard application and for the race track.

The products from Ennepetal were convincing already in those days through top quality and highest performance. Although the annual production output of BILSTEIN now amounts to approximately 10 million shock absorbers, all products are adapted precisely to the needs of customers. This is the reason why BILSTEIN has established itself as a standard supplier of Mercedes-Benz.