This Day in History (22-Dec-1900) – First “Mercedes” is delivered to its buyer

Gottlieb Daimler was the first man to harness with any true degree of success a combustion engine into a road vehicle. Daimler’s first four-wheeler, a Victoria-type motor driven carriage, was built in 1886. By 1890 demands for Daimler’s engine made expansion necessary and a corporation was formed, the Daimler Motoren Gesellschaft, or Daimler Motor Company as it was known in English.

The first recorded auto race, sponsored by the Petit-Journal of Paris in 1894 and conducted over a Paris to Rouen course, attracted forty-six entries and was looked forward to as a test of the steamer and electric versus the gas burners. The first three winning cars were powered by Daimler-built engines. A wealthy banker-sportsman Emil Jellinek of Vienna was much impressed by the success of the Daimler motor in racing competition. He purchased controlling stock interest in Daimler in the early 1890’s and put nearly unlimited funds at the disposal of Gottlieb Daimler’s two sons, Paul and Adolph. It was Jellinek who encouraged Daimler in his idea to create what was to be the most powerful car of its day, a 35 h.p. Monster.

In 1900 the 4-cylinder Daimler was completed and the car was christened in honor of Emil Jellinek’s beautiful daughter, Mercedes. The new car was an immediate sensation. From its flaring front fenders, rakish rearward sloping steering column to the T-head type cylinder construction and twin carburetors, the Mercedes was a beauty and did justice to its namesake.

Jellinek was so obsessed with his interest in high-speed automobiles that for nearly’ five years he held exclusive rights to the bulk of the Mercedes production and carefully limited the sale of the cars to individuals of known influence. Jellinek’s own international reputation as a sportsman and his careful selection of purchasers of the limited number of Mercedes available placed the cars with an upper-bracket clientele which, nearly as much as the car’s own intrinsic superior engineering and design, gave the Mercedes it’s reputation as a quality and high performance product.


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