Some of the most renowned performance vehicles in the world originated at Mercedes Benz. The German-based company crafted important luxury cars, including the 300SL and the Mercedes AMG-GT. This article offers a brief overview of its roots:
Two Key Innovators
The modern Mercedes Benz lines trace their origin to two brilliant automotive inventors: Karl Benz (1844-1929) and Gottlieb Daimler (1834-1900). Ironically, during their lifetimes these two men sometimes vied with one another as car designers, although they never met in person. The companies they founded both enjoyed success in the (then) fledgling auto marketplace.
Gottlieb Daimler gained acclaim for his work in developing automotive internal combustion engines powered by liquid petroleum. He worked closely with a younger business partner, an industrialist, and engineer named Wilhelm Maybach (1846-1929). They developed a compact yet powerful engine suitable for powering a motorized metal carriage with steel wheels.
In 1890, the pair founded the Daimler Motor Corporation, also known as “DMG”. In 1901, the year following Gottlieb Daimler’s death, the company developed one of the earliest cars for an Austrian businessman and racing enthusiast named Emil Jellinek. Mr. Jellinek named his custom-built vehicle the “Mercedes 35 hp”, in honor of his 10-year old daughter’s nickname.
Raised in poverty in Karlsruhe, brilliant Karl Benz trained initially as a locksmith and a railroad engineer. He later graduated from the University of Karlsruhe with a degree in mechanical engineering at the young age of 19. By 27, he had co-founded a sheet metal company. His wife, Bertha, helped finance his struggling business venture.
Karl Benz developed a series of patented new engines. He eventually invented some components which became essential for modern automobiles: the spark plug, the carburetor, the battery-powered engine ignition system, the gear shift, and the water radiator. After financial pressures forced him to incorporate his firm, he ultimately lost control of the enterprise. He withdrew from the sheet metal business in 1883 to found an industrial machinery manufacturing venture.
Benz & Cie, prospered, manufacturing equipment and engines. Its success allowed Karl Benz to pursue a hobby developing a motorized “horseless carriage”. In 1886, he patented a motorwagon. His company began marketing these vehicles, competing with rival DMG. Both firms created models for auto racing enthusiasts.
By 1900, Benz & Cie had become a leading vehicle manufacturer in France. In 1903, Karl Benz designed the Parsifil to rival the Mercedes 35 hp. Equipped with two engines, it achieved a maximum speed of 37 mph.
After World War I, DMG and Benz & Cie faced challenging economic conditions. The two German-based firms standardized their product lines. They merged to form Daimler-Benz in 1926.
The new enterprise used the Mercedes-Benz trademark for all its vehicles. Mercedes-Benz has gained international renown for its emphasis upon superb automotive engineering. Today, it still produces lines of premium innovative luxury vehicles.