Who Are BRABUS? History of the German Tuning Company

17th Jan 2023

By Kenny Longdon


BRABUS are widely known for their factory specialist tuning and bespoke modifications they provide for Mercedes-Benz models. However, they also cater for a few Porsche and Rolls-Royce cars too, along with having 'Marine' (Boats), 'Fashion' (Merchandise) and 'Coops' (Collaboration) parts of the business too. They also offer classic Mercedes-Benz restoration. 

They were established back in 1977 by Bodo Buschmann and Klaus Brackman. It is said that Buschmann who had a Porsche 911 was told by his father, who happened to be a Mercedes-Benz dealer, that he was not allowed to park his car at the dealership, unless it was a Mercedes-Benz.

Buschmann is said to have listened to his father, selling the 911 and opting for a 'W116' Mercedes-Benz S-Class. Buschmann had a plan though, to make his Mercedes-Benz faster than his previous Porsche.

As nobody was really tuning Mercedes-Benz models Buschmann saw an opportunity. At the time, AMG were supplying know-how to Mercedes-Benz racing cars, but did not become a subsidy of Mercedes-Benz until 1990, and did not become Mercedes-AMG until 2005, therefore Buschmann saw a potential gap in the market when it came to tuning and modifying Mercedes-Benz models.

The rest as they say, is history.

(Images courtesy of BRABUS)

Early Days


BRABUS, which is simply the 'BRA' of Brackman and the 'BUS' of Buschmann could now get to grips with modifying Mercedes-Benz for those who wanted more power and individuality from their 'Merc', but not before Brackman sold his shares to Buschmann.

But why did Brackman sell his share of the company to Bodo Buschmann? Put simply, Bodo needed a partner to establish BRABUS as a 'GmbH' which is German for 'Company with limited liability'. Brackman was a friend from university, who Buschmann enlisted the help of in order to set up the company. Brackman was fully aware what his role was in setting up BRABUS and how it would be very short lived.

With Buschmann successfully making his Mercedes-Benz faster and more unique looking to his 'W116' S-Class, other Mercedes-Benz models were then given the BRABUS treatment soon after.

The V8 Engine


When it comes to cars, those with a V8 engine are adored by many, due to their characteristics which include colossal noise, brute force and high performance.

When Mercedes-Benz launched the 190E, it came with a 2.3-litre or 2.5-litre 4-cylinder engine. BRABUS thought it needed a V8, and so the BRABUS 190E was born with a 5.0-litre V8, double the size of the factory Mercedes-Benz 190E model.

It was even faster from 0 to 62mph than the now holy grail homologation special Mercedes 190 E 2.5-16 Evolution II. The Mercedes took around 7.1 seconds whilst the V8 BRABUS took around 6.0 seconds.

This period in the 1980s and 1990s saw iconic Mercedes-Benz given the typical BRABUS power and subtle exterior enhancements. Other cool cars of this era included the BRABUS 6.9 V12, which was based on a Mercedes-Benz 600 SL.

V8 to V12


In 1993 BRABUS decided it would continue to modify certain Mercedes-Benz models, and did so by adding big engines, as it worked well before so why not stick to what you know?

BRABUS therefore took a Mercedes-Benz 500 E and fitted a colossal 6.9-litre V12 engine. Mercedes fitted the 500 E with an already potent 5.0-litre V8, so naturally BRABUS gave it four more cylinders and increased the displacement.

A standard Mercedes-Benz 500 E could go from 0 to 62mph in around 6.0 seconds, the BRABUS took just 4.6 seconds.

Subtle styling and BRABUS branding ensured you knew what you were looking at, despite the 'wolf in sheep's clothing' description from BRABUS.

Other 1990s highlights included the C V8 based on a 'W203' C-Class along with a couple of record-breaking cars in the form of the E V12 - based on a Mercedes-Benz 500 E which was given the title of fastest street-legal saloon in 1995, with a T V12 coming after - the fastest estate in the world in 1997.

A 'smart' Idea

smart BRABUS

Even though BRABUS are known for huge power and modified appearances, they have on multiple occasions been given the task of enhancing smart cars, usually known for their low running costs and compact proportions, ideal for city life.

Subtle tweaks and badges indicate these are more than just your average smart cars. These smart (stylised without a capital S) BRABUS models have been produced since the early 2000s, but perhaps the most interesting is the 2021 BRABUS-finished EQ fortwo coupé Racing Green Edition. Unlike the high-performance BRABUS models, this smart car is more about luxury that BRABUS are also known for, and it is even electric, not loaded with internal-combustion power like a traditional BRABUS.

Interiors are presented with ultra-high end Cognac Nappa leather with Racing Green top stitching, along with many other BRABUS items, such as a sports pedals, handbrake lever and gearstick. There is also carbon-fibre effect trim used to finish it all off nicely. Exteriors feature subtle enhancement too like upgraded wheels, paint and styling to finish off the edition.

Modifying a Legend


Perhaps one of the most interesting and popular models BRABUS choose to put their stamp on is the legendary Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen. And it is not just one model, they offer a range of BRABUS models based on the Mercedes SUV icon.

And it is fair to say that in more recent times, the subtle exterior styling of yesteryear BRABUS models, is now a lot more striking, to say the least.

Take the BRABUS '800 BLACK & GOLD EDITION'. It is based on an already high-performing Mercedes-AMG G 63, but as you can probably guess, the SUV's power has been increased from 577bhp (585PS) to 789bhp (800PS).

It also offers bespoke black and gold detailing, with gold interior trim, Monoblock gold alloy wheels, lashings of interior carbon fibre and of course bespoke exterior BRABUS body styling.

But if that was not enough, BRABUS can go one step further in their customisation. The BRABUS P 900 ROCKET EDITION is a 1 of 10 special edition based on the same Mercedes-AMG G 63, only this time it looks like a weapons-grade G-Wagen with the wick well and truly turned up.

889bhp (900PS) ensures this behemoth beast has the 'performance of a track-ready supercar' with 0 to 62mph happening in an unbelievable 3.7 seconds as well as being a monster of an SUV that can cope with pretty much anything you throw at it.



Today, BRABUS is seen as a respectable tuner of Mercedes-Benz models for those who want to stand out that little bit more, or want extreme power.

Of course, many will opt for the in-house Mercedes-AMG models, but the sheer exclusivity and history of BRABUS will certainly tempt individuals looking to make a statement.

Not only are they a 'tuner' but their history, for which spans for over 40 years is full of unique bespoke craftsmanship that has seen them recognised as a premium supplier. You only have to take a look at the set-up at their headquarters to see just how impressive each BRABUS model is.

It is probably why Mercedes-Benz are happy to be associated with such a brand, as many aftermarket tuners simply do not have the relationships with their associated OEM manufacturers. 

Read more blogs like this

We are constantly posting new articles in our dedicated Stratstone Blog. It features everything from Buyers Guides, Selling Guides, Owner's Guides, Driving Guides, History and Lifestyle articles as well as Spotlight articles.

Why not have a browse using the link above if you enjoyed reading this article.

Alternatively, why not take a look at our Mercedes-Benz and Mercedes-AMG offers, or check out our Mercedes-Benz used cars.