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  • Writer's pictureTim Jackson

Germany led the world with Daimler-Benz

Updated: Nov 3, 2023


The automobile industry has come along way, baby. You can say that as it relates to how far we have come since the inception auto industry very late in the 19th Century. A number of pioneers played a key role in the development of the auto industry. Two of the most important names associated with it early on were Karl Benz and Gottlieb Daimler.


Each of these two important individuals founded their respective companies in the early 20th century and their legacy lives on very proudly to this day. This chapter is intended to cover the founding of Daimler and Mercedes-Benz and their historic and central connection to the start of the worldwide automobile industry in its earliest days.


The origins of Daimler


Gottlieb Daimler was born in Schorndorf, Germany, in March of 1834. Daimler was a truly brilliant engineer. He worked for a number of companies in the early years of his career. In 1882, Daimler founded his own company then formed Daimler-Mototoran-Gesellsch (DMG) with his business partner Willhelm Maybach. The company was based in Stuttgart, Germany, and was focused on the development of internal combustion engines.


Daimler‘s first major success came in 1885, when he developed a high speed engine that could be used in a variety of applications. This engine was particularly well-suited for use in automobiles which were getting popular during this period of time. Daimler’s engine was smaller and lighter than most others of the day which, seemingly, made it perfectly ideal for use in cars.


The next few years turned into a period of rapid growth for DMG, the Daimler/Maybach refined engine designs were soon being used on everything from boats to aircraft, though it was the automobile that would ultimately become DMG’s most important and timely project.


In 1892, DMG introduced its first automobile, the Daimler Motor Carriage. This vehicle was a major milestone in the history of the automobile, as it was truly the first in the modern sense of the word. It was powered by a four stroke, internal combustion engine and it had a number of features still profound in cars today, including a steering wheel and a differential in the drivetrain.


The origins of Mercedes Benz


While Daimler was busy building his company, another pioneer in the young auto industry was making his mark. Karl Benz was born in Muhlberg Baden, Germany in 1844. Benz was an engineer who had a passion for designing and building machines. In 1883 he founded Benz & Cie based in Mannheim, Germany. Benz, viewed by many as the father of the car, has also been referred to as the father of the automobile industry.


Benz’s first major success came in 1885 when he developed a three-wheeled vehicle, powered by a gasoline engine. This vehicle, the Benz Patent Motorwagen, was widely regarded as the first true automobile. Like Daimler’s motor carriage, it was powered by a four-stroke internal combustion engine.


Over the next few years, Benz continued to refine his designs and his company grew rapidly. By the turn of the century, Benz & Cie was one of the largest automobile manufacturers in the world.


The merger of Daimler and Benz


Despite their success, DMG and Benz & Cie faced significant challenges in the early years of the 20th century, competition in the automobile industry was fierce. There were concerns about the long-term viability of both companies.


In 1924 the two companies announced they would merge, forming a new company called Daimler-Benz AG. The merger was a major milestone.


Overall, the 1920s was a time of great change in the automotive industry. Mercedes-Benz was at the forefront. In 1926, the company introduced the Mercedes-Benz 8/38 PS, a car that was both stylish and powerful. The 8/38 PS was powered by a four-cylinder engine that produced 38 horsepower with advanced features that included hydraulic brakes and a four-speed gearbox.


Emil Jellinek, (known after 1903 as Emil Jellinek-Mercedes), was an automobile entrepreneur of the Daimler Motored Gesellschaft, responsible in 1900 for commissioning the first modern automobile, the recedes 35hp. Jellinek created the Mercedes trademark in 1902.


The name ‘Mercedes’ in the car name Mercedes Benz comes from the daughter of Emil Jellinek, a businessman and racing enthusiast who played a significant role in the early development of the Mercedes brand. The cars were named after his daughter, whose name was Mercedes Jellinek. Besides being actively engaged in leadership of the car manufacturer, he was also an early new car dealer in Austria.


Whenever people talk about Mercedes-Benz early motorsport success, most reference the Silver Arrows that dominated the motorsport world in the late 1930s. However, well before that, there was a line of White Arrows emerged in 1927, winning many hill climb events, two Nurburgring GPs (1928 and 1931), one Irish GP (1930) and the most challenging road race in the world, Mille Migila (1931). It broke the domination by Italian and French sports car makers and gave German the first taste of motorsport success. That was the Mercedes S / SS / SSK / SSKL series.


The S / SS / SSK / SSKL series. was designed by Ferdinand Porsche when he was serving as technical director of Daimler, just before founding his own consultant company. Work was started based on the existing Mercedes 630K, which was a luxury touring car powered by a 6.3-liter supercharged straight-6.


Porsche gave the new S (Sport) model a lower chassis for better handling and bored out the engine to 6.8 liters, taking its supercharged horsepower to 180. As before, the Roots-type supercharger was engaged by flooring down the throttle, otherwise the engine ran off-boost and produced up to 120 hp.


Therefore, the S was officially called 26/120/180S, where the numbers represented its tax horsepower, off-boost horsepower and supercharged horsepower respectively. Another superior feature to the 630K was a 4-speed gearbox, which could take the car to 110 mph.


Mercedes-Benz continued to innovate in the 1930s with the introduction of the Mercedes-Benz 540K. It was truly a masterpiece of engineering with a sleek and stylish design that was unmatched by any other car of the time. The 540K was powered by a supercharged eight-cylinder engine that produced an impressive 180 horsepower, making it one of the best performing cars of its era. The 540K was also equipped with a hydraulic suspension system and a four-speed gearbox.


The 1940s were a difficult time for Mercedes-Benz, as the company was forced to focus on producing military vehicles during World War II. However, after the war, Mercedes-Benz quickly bounced back with the introduction of the 300 SL, a true masterpiece of design, with a sleek and aerodynamic body inspired by the company's racing cars. The 300 SL was also equipped with a range of advanced features, including a fuel-injected engine that produced 215 horsepower, making it one of the fastest cars of its time.


The 1950s saw Mercedes-Benz continue to innovate with the introduction of the 190 SL and the 300 SLR. The 190 SL, a stylish and affordable sports car designed to appeal to a wider audience, was powered by a four-cylinder engine that produced 105 horsepower, making it a relatively quick car for its time. The 300 SLR, on the other hand, was a true racing car that was designed to compete in some of the most grueling races in the world. The 300 SLR was powered by a fuel-injected eight-cylinder engine that produced an impressive 310 horsepower, one of the most powerful cars yet.


Mercedes-Benz continued in the 1960s to push the boundaries of what was possible in the automotive industry with the introduction of the 600, a masterpiece of engineering with a range of advanced features unmatched by any other vehicle of its time. The 600 was powered by a massive six-liter V8 engine of 300 horsepower, and a four-geared automatic transmission.


In the 1970s, Mercedes-Benz continued to innovate with the introduction of the S-Class. This car was a true luxury sedan with a range of advanced features designed to provide the ultimate driving experience. The S-Class was powered by a range of engines, including a fuel-injected V-8 that produced up to 245 horsepower.


The 1980s saw Mercedes-Benz introduce the 190E, a sports sedan powered by a range of engines, including a fuel-injected four-cylinder engine that produced up to 190 horsepower. The car was also equipped with a five-speed manual transmission.


During the 1990s, Mercedes-Benz continued to expand its product line and improve its technology. In 1991, S-Class flagship model featured airbags and traction control, as well as a powerful V-8 engine and a sleek, aerodynamic design. Mercedes-Benz introduced the C-Class in 1993, which was a compact luxury sedan designed to compete with other high-end vehicles in the market. The C-Class was a huge success, and it helped to establish Mercedes-Benz as a major player in the luxury car market.


Notable achievement for Mercedes-Benz in 1995 was the introduction of the E-Class a midsize luxury sedan that featured a more modern design and advanced technology, such as a multilink suspension system and a new electronic stability control system. However, the 1990s also presented some challenges for Mercedes-Benz. The company faced increased competition from other luxury car brands, such as BMW and Audi, and it struggled to keep up with the changing demands of consumers. Additionally, Mercedes-Benz faced criticism for some of its design choices, such as the use of plastic parts in its cars.


Despite these challenges, Mercedes-Benz remained a top player in the luxury car market, and it continued to innovate and improve its products. In the early 2000s, the company introduced several new models, including the SLK-Class, which was a two-seater roadster that combined sporty performance with luxury features.


In 2006, Mercedes-Benz introduced the CLS-Class, which was a four-door coupe that was designed to appeal to younger, more style-conscious consumers. The CLS-Class featured a sleek, streamlined design and a powerful V-8 engine, and it quickly became a popular choice for buyers wanting a luxury car both practical and stylish.


Another major achievement for Mercedes-Benz during this time was the introduction of the SLS AMG in 2010. The SLS AMG was a high-performance sports car that featured a powerful V-8 engine and a lightweight aluminum body. It was designed to compete with other high-end sports cars, such as the Porsche 911 and the Audi R8, and it quickly became a favorite among car enthusiasts.


The 2010s presented other challenges for Mercedes-Benz, increased competition from Tesla, which was disrupting the traditional luxury car market with its electric vehicles. Additionally, Mercedes Benz faced criticism for some of its design choices, such as the use of large grilles and overly complicated infotainment systems.


Despite these challenges, Mercedes-Benz continued to innovate and improve its products. In 2014, the company re=introduced the C-Class sedan its popular compact luxury car, featured a more modern look, advanced safety features and improved fuel efficiency.


In 2015, Mercedes Benz introduced the GLE-Class, which was a midsize luxury SUV, combining comfort, performance and versatility. The GLE-Class featured a range of advanced features, such as a 360-degree camera system and a self-leveling air suspension, and it quickly became a popular choice for families and adventurers alike.


Mercedes-Benz during this time introduced the AMG GT, a high-performance sports car designed to compete with other high-end sports cars, such as the Porsche 911 and the Audi R8. It featured a high-performance V-8 engine, a lightweight aluminum body and a range of advanced performance features, such as active aerodynamics and a torque-vectoring system.


In recent years, Mercedes-Benz has continued to innovate and improve its products. In 2018, the company introduced the A-Class sedan, which was a new entry-level luxury car that was designed to appeal to younger, tech-savvy consumers. The A-Class featured a range of advanced technological features, such as a digital instrument cluster and switches.


Mercedes Benz is also now rolling with some exceptional electric vehicles (EVs) in newly introduced EQ line of zero-emission cars. These include EQB, an SUV, EQE, both sedan and SUV, and EQS, both sedan and SUV. The reviews these vehicles receive are strong, though the most frequent criticism is that they are priced much higher than comparable in-market EVs. That may be an issue for Mercedes Benz going forward.







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