|Gottlieb Daimler and Carl Benz were born around 60 miles apart in Germany. Daimler was born March 17, 1834. A decade later, on November 25, Carl Benz was born.|
Both were fascinated by machines from an early age. Because their approach to building cars was quite different, it is unlikely, though, that they met or even knew what the other was doing though it is remarkable that two great pioneers should be located so closely together.
In 1886, Benz built a motorized tricycle. followed by his first four-wheeler, the Victoria, in 1893. The first production car was the 1894 Benz Velo which participated in the first recorded car race, the Paris-Rouen.
In 1886, Daimler built a so called " horseless carriage". later Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschat produced a special car for one Emil Jellinek. Jellinek named the car after his ten-year-old daughter Mercedes. The new Mercedes had 35 hp and a top speed of 55 mph!
The Benz's responded with the 1903 Parsifil. A two cylinder vertical engine produced a car with a top speed of 37 mph.
Aware of the promotional potential of racing, both Daimler and Benz entered into competition. Until 1908, Daimler overshadowed Benz in racing terms. Until at the 1908 French Grand Prix, Benz took second and third place behind Lautenschlager driving a Mercedes.
The first world war halted car production, although both resumed producing cars after the war. Social unrest and a failing economy characterized post-war Germany. Little or no fuel for cars and a 15% luxury tax made car sales increasingly hard. This market sent the Benz Company seeking a partner. The only one the board considered worthy of Benz was Daimler.
In 1919, Benz approached Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschat for the first time about a possible merger. The merger attempt looked promising, but was abandoned in December of 1919.
Although nearly 15 million cars had been produced 1923, over 80% of them were in the US and over half were Fords. Benz. built 1,382 cars in 1923 while Daimler built 1,020. German car makers were at a low point although racing success for the companies continued to grow.
In 1924, from sheer economic necessity, Benz and DMG signed an "Agreement of Mutual Interest." Although both companies supposedly retained their identities, The two companies merged on June 28, 1926.
A symbol was chosen for the combined products of Daimler and Benz. The new insignia was a three-pointed star wreathed with laurel. The word "Mercedes" was at the top and the word "Benz" was at the bottom.
The first two automobiles to sport the Mercedes-Benz name were the Stuttgart and the Mannheim.
The merger helped the new company to flourish. Production of Mercedes-Benz rose to 7,918 in 1927 and a diesel truck was put into production .
In 1928 Mercedes introduced the SS model.
Mercedes-Benz launched their biggest and most prestigious car to date in 1930.
The 770 Grosser with an 8 cylinder, 7.6 liter engine.
The cars of the 1930s produced great racing success for Mercedes-Benz. The silver metal bodywork gave rise to the name Silver Arrows when the W25 racer had the white paint removed to supposedly lower its weight and fit within the grandprix racing rules.
During the late thirties German cars dominated Grand Prix racing with Mercedes battling against Auto-Union for the top spot.
In 1937 the 200mph W125 won seven out of thirteen grand prix and was followed by the successful W154.
War once again interrupted car production, but it didn't take Mercedes to long after to rise from the ashes of a destroyed Germany. By the 50's Mercedes cars where once again a dominant force in sports car racing, and the company established a reputation for quality that is the envy of every car manufacturer.
By the 90's Mercedes were heavily in racing again. Firstly in Indy car, then sports and Endurance racing and latterly in collaboration with McLaren into Grand Prix with the same kind of success they enjoyed in the 30's
On March 6, 1990, Daimler died, leaving control of his company to his chief engineer Wilhelm Mayback. Its perhaps only fitting that as the century closed that Daimler-Benz Mercedes one of the few remaining independent pioneer companies took over Chrysler in the biggest ever Automobile merger to become one of the biggest manufactures in the world.
NB (Ironically, it is reputed that Daimler, generally considered to be the father of modern automobiles never actually liked to drive)