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Mercedes-Benz — the history of the famous car producer

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Gottlieb Daimler and Carl Benz were born only 60 miles apart in southern Germany. Daimler was born March 17, 1834. A decade later, on November 25, Carl Benz was born.

Although they grew up with little in common, both boys were fascinated by machines from an early age. Because their approach to building cars was quite different, it is doubtful, though, that they met or even knew what the other was doing.

In 1886, Carl Benz built a motorized tricycle. His first four-wheeler, the Victoria, was built in 1893. The first production car was the 1894 Benz Velo which participated in the first recorded car race, the Paris-Rouen race. In 1895, Benz built his first truck.

In 1886, Gottlieb Daimler literally built a horseless carriage. In 1888 Daimler made a business deal with William Steinway (of piano fame) to produce Daimler's products in the US. From 1904 until a fire in 1907, Steinway produced Mercedes passenger cars, Daimler's light trucks, and his engines on Long Island.

Ironically, history says Daimler, generally considered to be the father of modern automobiles never liked to drive, if, indeed he ever learned to drive. When Daimler died, he left control of his company to his chief engineer Wilhelm Mayback.

By November 22 of that year, Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschat had produced a special car for Emil Jellinek. Jellinek named the car after his ten-year-old daughter Mercedes. Lighter and smaller, the new Mercedes had 35 hp and a top speed of 55 mph!

The 1903 Parsifil was Benz's answer to Mercedes. A two cylinder vertical engine produced a top speed of 37 mph in this car.

Aware of the promotional potential of racing, both Daimler and Benz entered many of them. However, up until 1908, Daimler had overshadowed Benz in racing endeavors. At the 1908 French Grand Prix, Benz took second and third place behind Lautenschlager driving a Mercedes. From that point on, both Benz and Daimler did well in racing.