Mercedes Benz cars are known the world over for being classy, luxury vehicles that are superbly engineered, swift and generally reliable –though they had a patch in the nineties and early 2000s which they let themselves down in terms of overall reliability. Big, comfortable and safe, Mercedes-Benz vehicles are the perfect vehicle for a family as well as for those who appreciate fine engineering. And when you consider the origins of the Mercedes-Benz marque, it’s easy to understand why Mercedes is such a family friendly marque. And, for all of those “girl racers” and women who like to drive, Mercedes Benz has been one for the ladies from the start.
For Mercedes Benz, it all began in 1871 when the young man Karl Benz, got together with a partner, August Ritter, in Mannheim to form his first company: He called the company; “The Iron Foundry and Machine Shop”. The joint venture did not last long and Karl Benz started a company of his own. By 1879/80 Karl Benz had developed his first working two-stroke engine which by the time 1885 was reached he had placed this engine into a motorcycle frame and had produced his first motorcycle.
On January 29, 1886 the Imperial Patent Office in Berlin granted Karl Benz German Patent No. 37435 for the world’s first motor car. Its 0.7 hp engine was mounted horizontally at the back of a three-wheeler carriage, and this was the beginning of the worlds motor car era. Some members of the public treated the new invention with suspicion, even to the point of believing that this new machine was powered by black magic.
However, Bertha Benz believed in her husband’s machine, even when Karl Benz was on the point of giving up. So she decided to prove to the world that this invention was sensible, practical and useful. Without informing Karl, she took her teenage sons on a trip of over sixty miles from Mannheim to Pforzheim on trip to visit her mother. This was the world’s first long-distance car drive.
In spite of a few hitches along the way – Bertha Benz had to do a little of her own motor repairs with the help of a hairpin and a garter as well as calling on a blacksmith at one point – the journey was a great success. It proved to the world that the automobile was easy to use – if a respectable middle-class woman could drive it alone (remember, this was the Victorian era), anyone could drive it!
With some new partners involved in the company after the successful publicity, and 50 employees, Karl Benz now concentrated entirely on designing motor vehicles. With all this added input, the Benz Velo was produced. It was the first cheap, mass-produced car in the world and came onto the market in 1893.
The suggestion to use the star as a trademark came from Gottlieb Daimler’s sons. Their father had once sent his wife a postcard with a star marking out the house where he was living in Deutz. “One day this star will shine down on my work”, he said. So, it was in 1909 that the trademark three pointed star was introduced to Karl Benz’s products.
It was in 1926 that the merge between Daimler Motoren Gesellschaft and Benz & Cie occurred. Thanks to some combined effort between the two companies on the racing track, under which 269 races were won, the two companies merged. Daimler, another family man, did not contribute his surname to the marque, choosing to honour his daughter Mercedes instead.
Shortly after the merger, Daimler-Benz created the legendary “K Type” supercharged model which had a top speed of 145 km/h, making it the fastest touring car in the world.
Over the decades Daimler-Benz produced some wonderful motorcars that have become etched into automobile history. Perhaps the most famous would be that of the Mercedes 300SL Gullwing which was produced in 1954, and was capable of 250 kph.
The first Mercedes Benz car in Australia was a Benz No. 1 Ideal, which arrived in Sydney, The British Colony of News South Wales 21st, May 1900. This little car had been imported from England for Mr. Henry Vale of Auburn, New South Wales. Private imports of Benz vehicles continued until 1907 when a young German immigrant August Hoette held the rights for exclusive selling rights to Benz vehicles. His first dealership – The Benz Motor Agency was set up in 103 Exhibition Street, Melbourne. This still remains the current site for Lanes Motors, a Mercedes-Benz dealership.
Today, Mercedes Benz is definitely one of the great European marques. It survived the war and has become one of the leading suppliers of luxury cars worldwide. Mercedes Benz cars are engineered to very high standards to provide motoring that is very luxurious, swift and safe.
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