Tag Archives: Carl Benz

History of the Mercedes – & The Go Mercedes Team Fueled Passion

Go Mercedes.com is designed for the classic performance Mercedes enthusiast and collector.  We explore the exciting history of the Mercedes-Benz and also go on adventures selecting performance classic Mercedes throughout the country.

We are just as passionate about the Mercedes Benz brand as you are!  Everyone on our team at GoMercedes.com are long time Mercedes affecianados, collectors or restorers.

Mercedes collectors are inspired by a fierce loyalty. It’s hard to narrow it down to  exactly which qualities of the classic Mercedes cause us to be so obsessed. The older Mercedes of the past have that certain panache that seem unbeatable in the classic collector market.
classic mercedes magazine advertisement

When pressed to explain why we just have to have yet another Mercedes; it can be slightly hard to rationalize to family members.  Any hesitation is thrown to the wind though  when we focus our sights on a potential rare acquisition just a few hundred miles away. It seems when one gets the “Mercedes Bends”  as they say,  we can’t help ourselves.  Perhaps it is the impeccable engineering or absolute perfection in design that draws us in with unbridled enthusiasm.   The extreme attention to detail that Mercedes stylists and car builders of days gone by just seems to outshine other makes produced today.

Best in class engineering” is the Mercedes brand mantra. Stellar performance through perfection  stems from perhaps the founding pioneers themselves Benz and Dailmer.   Even Emil Jelinek drove the Dailmer company nearly berserk with his obsession for speed and perfection.   Both of whom  poured their savings and souls into their life’s work.

Carl Benz


Gottlieb Daimler 1890 photograph
Gottlieb Daimler

In curious synchronicity both men toiled a mere 60 miles away from one another in Germany in 1888 on their own  internal combustion engines.  Unbeknownst to each other their engineering efforts would literally propel the automotive world into the next century.

Excitement was in the air for Carl Benz on New Year’s Eve of 1879 .   On that evening he heard the first sounds of his two stroke engine sputter to life for the very first time.   For his newly developed Benz Patent Motor Car, in 1886 he was granted patent No. 37435 widely considered to be the official “birth certificate of the automobile.”
Benz officially unveiled his invention to the public on July 3rd, 1886, on the Ringstrasse (Ringstraße) in Mannheim. About 25 Patent Motorwagens were built between 1886 and 1893. The original cost of the vehicle in 1885 was $1,000 (equivalent to $26,248 in 2015).

1886 - Benz Motorwagen
1886 Benz Motorwagen

Drawings of the very first automobile developed by Carl Benz

Closeup of Drawings of the Very First Automobile Patent Developed by Carl Benz

Carl Benz Patent for First Motor Car
Benz Patent Motor Car, in 1886, Patent No. 37435

Carl Benz in his Benz Patent Motorwagen
Carl Benz (left) seated in the Benz Patent Motorwagen

Bertha Benz - Financier and first long distance driver of the Benz
Bertha Benz and her two sons with the Patent-Motorwagen in 1888.

Bertha Benz – Financier and First Distance Driver of the Patent Motorwagen

The world owes a debt of gratitude to Carl Benz’s wife Bertha Ringer Benz.   Benz later wrote in his memoirs after his marriage on July 20, 1872: “With this step, an idealist is at my side who knows what she wants, from the small and narrow to the grand, clear and vast.”

Supporting all her husband’s activities and sharing his pioneering spirit, Bertha Benz turns out to be a key factor in the success of Carl Benz.  A longtime financial supporter of Carl even before marriage, she helped save him many times from financial ruin. She helped to save an iron construction company he had jointly held with an untrustworthy business partner.   Eventually that company went down, but Bertha stepped up again with financial support and provided her considerable business acumen to help him form another manufacturing company called  Benz & Cie.   Through lean times, Bertha was always at the ready and provided enough financial support that  Carl was able to start his dream work of creating a motorized vehicle.

Carl finished his work on his first horseless carriage in December 1885 (he received a patent for it the following year). The single-cylinder, 2.5-horsepower car had three wheels—one in front and two in the back—and could reach a maximum speed of 25 mph.

Carl was apparently not a very good marketer.  In fact his first demostration terrified spectators as the driver lost control of the vehicle and crashed into a wall.  A notorious perfectionist he retreated from the public eye,  and although he had already developed two of the machines, was starting on a third.  He just didn’t seem to have quite the  confidence to showcase his new inventions to the public.

Bertha understood the dilemma and was becoming somewhat frustrated by Carl’s inability to act on his own.  She also noted that there was increasing pressure from a competitor, Gottlieb Daimler who had invented a horseless carriage of his own— the world’s first four-wheeled, high-speed automobile just a few miles away.

Bertha was a very smart woman who knew the power of marketing.  She instinctively knew that a long trip with the car would gather much attention from the public along the way.    She knew the publicity would help popularize Carl Benz’s latest invention—and likely saved him from professional and financial ruin.

Mrs. Bertha Benz
Bertha (Ringer) Benz – Driver and Mechanic for First Long Distance Automobile Trip

So in  early August of 1888, at age 39, Bertha penned a note telling her husband she was going to drive to her mother’s house.  She gathered her two teenage sons and climbed aboard the third Patent-Motorwagen vehicles her husband had assembled.   One can only imagine their excitement as the three drove from Mannheim through Heidelberg, and Wiesloch.  Just as anticipated, curious spectators gathered for miles to see the three driving about the countryside.   No doubt it was quite a bewildering  sight to see the first motorized vehicle rattling on byy.  Amazing as that was, the fact that the vehicle was being  driven by a woman must of been absolutely astounding.

The trip was in fact really no joy ride.  Bertha Benz was not only the driver, but also improvised as an ever resourceful mechanic.   Along the way a number of difficulties were faced.  An ignition wire short circuited.  Bertha actually used her garter to repair it.  When a fuel pipe got clogged, she used her hat pin to clean it out.  In addition, she was able to convince a blacksmith along the way to help mend a chain that had broken.  The car didn’t have a fuel tank so she carefully manuevered the car to towns with apothecaries that sold a petroleum based cleaning fluid called ligroin.  She put it into the carburetor to keep it running through the journey.  She also had to stop often for water to in order to cool down the engine.   The boys came in handy when the car needed pushing which was probably quite often.    If that wasn’t enough when the brakes began to wear down (basically just pieces of wood) the ever resourceful Mrs. Benz stopped at a local shoemaker to have them nail leather on the brake blocks.  So one can also say she actually was one of the first to invent brake pads as well.

Bertha Benz Formal Photo
Bertha Benz – Financier,  Adventurer and Integral to the Success of the Benz Motorwagen

Another plus came from Bertha’s trip.  Since she and her sons had quite a time going up hills with a 2.5 horse powered car, often resorting to manually pushing the car uphill.  Those difficulties convinced the inventor to make a crucial modification – the introduction of the world’s first gear system.

An Awesome Sight of the Motorwagen

The Motorwagen was a light three-wheeled vehicle, powered by a single-cylinder gasoline engine that got about 25 mpg.   Bertha went the entire distance of about 65 miles in about 12 hours. Around dusk she managed to pull into her hometown of Pforzheim.   She immediately sent a telegram to her husband that she had arrived safely at her mother’s home.  She spent the night at her mother’s house and returned home three days later.   Again another brilliant move on her part,  she chose another route and gathered even more spectators who were fascinated by the vehicle.  The trip covered 194 km (121 mi) in total.

By the time  she returned home, eyewitness accounts were pouring in from the trip.  The news was rushed into print in local newspapers. With Bertha providing a real living proof of concept, Karl immediately rushed one of his other models to a scientific exhibit in Munich.  All in all, she had driven over 120 miles at a time when no other automobile had traveled more than a few dozen feet. Her trip unleashed an avalanche of publicity and the couple began receiving orders for their newfangled contraption almost immediately.  The critics now knew of the vehicle’s reliability and the Benz Patent Motor Car was the talk of the town. The public loved the Motorwagen in Munich and orders began to rush in the door.

Within a decade Karl’s company, Benz & Cie., became the world’s largest automobile company with a full-time staff of more than 400 and annual sales of nearly 600 vehicles.

Benz Factory Photo

Benz Motorwagen Advertisement

Bertha Benz died in 1944 at the ripe age of 95.  She is indeed a heroine of the auto industry one to be celebrated.

Carl Benz with his wife in first automobile
Carl Benz with family



Where did the name Mercedes come from?

Where did the name Mercedes originate from?  Mercedes actually is of Spanish origin, referring to a title for the Virgin Mary, Maria de las Mercedes.

Resource:  Media: Daimler.com

Namesake: Mercedes Jellinek aged 15. Emil Jellinek initially chose the first name of his daughter as a pseudonym for his own involvement in racing with vehicles from Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft; it later became the brand name.;

This young girl’s name is Mércédès Jellinek, pictured at the age of 15.    Her first name has become synonymous with the best engineered cars in the world, Mercedes Benz.

You might be asking yourself how did a little girl’s name became one of the most famous marques in the world?  Her father,  an  Austrian businessman and an avid racing enthusiast was very much involved with racing vehicles for Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft.

He initially chose the first name of his daughter as a pseudonym in competitions.   It was quite common  in those days for racing  men to use “aliases” so as to keep their true identity secret from the competition and the like.  Thus Emil Jellinek raced as Monsieur Mercedes.

Emil with his daughter Mercedes.

Pionier des Automobilvertriebs: Der Kaufmann Emil Jellinek (1853 bis 1918) verkaufte sehr erfolgreich Mercedes-Fahrzeuge der DMG. ; Pioneer car salesman: businessman Emil Jellinek (1853-1918) sold DMG’s Mercedes cars very successfully.;European entrepreneur,  Emil Jellinek (1853-1918).   A legendary salesman who utilized his diplomatic ties with the elite to sell  DMG’s Mercedes cars .

The Pioneering Perfectionist:  Emil  Jellinek

Emil Jellinek was a young man who enjoyed a fashionable lifestyle when the automobile was invented in 1886. He was fascinated with the new product and owned one ever since they appeared: after first trying out a De Dion three-wheeler he bought a four-wheeled Benz Viktoria when the model became available in 1893. But he was not really satisfied yet with the new vehicles. In his view they could be better and had not developed their full potential. He referred to the Benz, for example, as a “monster”, comparing it with a crawling spider.

Eventually, in 1896 a newspaper advertisement of Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft (DMG) caught Jellinek’s attention. He travelled to Cannstatt and ordered two belt-driven cars, “a four-horsepower and a nine-horsepower” which were said to do 40 km/h on a “smooth road” an unheard-of speed in the outgoing nineteenth century.

In Nice, where Emil Jellinek spent most of the year, and which was then a meeting place for the upper crust of France and Europe mainly in the winter,  horseless carriages caught on very well. Starting in 1897 Jellinek promoted the Daimler automobiles in the highest social circles, working as an independent dealer.
The Rothschild family and other well-known personalities bought cars from him. By the time Gottlieb Daimler passed away in 1900, Jellinek had managed to sell 34 cars this way. This gave him weight in his dealings with DMG, and he repeatedly demanded technical innovations of Daimler and engineer Wilhelm Maybach. He combined an ability to judge vehicles with an antenna for the market, and, viewed on the whole, definitely can be described as a marketing strategist.

Jellinek finally convinced Daimler and Maybach that the future of the automobile lay in speed and elegance. “When I came on the scene the Daimler cars were solid, usable and reliable in service, but only cars in theory” he is quoted as saying

Jellinek did not see speed as just a fun temptation but rather he considered it to be the true purpose of a motor vehicle: “If I can’t get any more out of an automobile than out of a horse and carriage, then I might as well travel by horse again!”

Moreover, he suggested that the inventor of the automobile compete in races and reliability runs under his own name and with his own cars, because “racing will make a name for a factory and a brand.”

The first Semmering race, 27 August 1899. The category winner Emil Jellinek is seen here at the wheel of his 16 hp Phoenix racing car, next to him is Hermann Braun. From left to right, on the back seat: Ferdinand Spiegel, Otto Zels and Ferdinand Jellinek. (The first Phoenix models were extremely tall vehicles with a rounded bonnet and round-shaped radiators. They had an output of up to 24 hp).;

Pictured above:  “Pre-Mercedes era” – The first Semmering race, 27 August 1899. The category winner Emil Jellinek is seen here at the wheel of his 16 hp Phoenix racing car, next to him is Hermann Braun. 

Jellinek took a hand in racing himself. For a racing event in Nice in 1899 he had two Daimler Phoenix cars built for himself. They had an output of 21 kW  a great deal for that period. The vehicles could pass for sports cars or racing cars. To support him, DMG sent him Wilhelm Bauer, a foreman who was most familiar with the Phoenix model.


However, the cars from the Daimler company were not good enough to win either the speed trials or the hillclimb. This spurred Jellinek on: he strongly interfered in the company’s model policy, demanding more powerful, faster vehicles from DMG. In addition, he wanted a new chassis: wider, longer, lower-slung, lighter in short: safer than before, even at higher speeds. “I am not interested in today’s car or tomorrow’s.“

I want the car of the day after tomorrow!” This was Emil Jellinek’s maxim. “My workshop is the road. Only the road is the criterion for me.”

During the Nice racing week at the end of March 1900, disaster struck. In the Nice La Turbie mountain race Daimler factory driver Wilhelm Bauer suffered a fatal accident with the car entered in the race as “Mercedes I”.

Co-driver Hermann Braun, who already overturned in the Nice Marseille race with “Mercedes II”, the second Daimler entered at the race week, again remain unscathed.

Cannstatt’s first reaction was to make excessive engine outputs responsible for the accident and to stay away from any speed events in future. However, Emil Jellinek convinced Wilhelm Maybach in early March that the car’s high centre of gravity was responsible for the accident: “Victories bring world fame. People buy the winning brand, and will always buy it. It would be commercial suicide to abstain from racing,” Jellinek argued. “What we need is a new vehicle of completely different design.”

On April 2,  1900 Jellinek ordered the development of a new kind of car with Daimler.  The car was to have an output of at least 26 kW.  He ordered it to be a lightweight engine with a lower centre of gravity and very fast.


A deal needed to be done in order to produce the new vehicles, but DMG was confronted with the problem of sales financing for this better engineered car.  The company needed further capital: even assuming it would be a success, whether or not the cars actually would be sold still posed a relatively high risk.

Jellinek answered this by coming to an agreement with DMG.  He promised a rather large sum of 550,000 Goldmark if Wilhelm Maybach would design the revolutionary sports car for him, and call it Mercedes.   (In today’s numbers, 550,000 Goldmark’s would  be the equivalent of 2.3 million euros.)

With financing in place, it was agreed that 36 units were to be delivered before October 15, 1900.    In exchange Emil proposed that he would sell the cars and share in the profits with DMG.  The deal also included an order for 36 standard DMG 8 hp cars. Jellinek also became a member of DMG’s Board of Management.

The First Official Mercedes

Der erste "Mercedes", der 35-PS Rennwagen von 1901. ; The 35 hp Mercedes racing car of 1901, the first "Mercedes".;
Der erste “Mercedes”, der 35-PS Rennwagen von 1901. ;
The 35 hp Mercedes racing car of 1901, the first “Mercedes”.;


The agreement also assured him far-reaching sales rights for more powerful cars from DMG in all major markets. From April 1900 Emil Jellinek was thus general distributor for Austria-Hungary, France, Belgium and the USA “practically for the whole world,” as one chronicler writes. Jellinek himself was a citizen of Austria-Hungary. In the countries where he was sole distributor, the cars were sold under name “Mercedes”, while in all other countries they initially sold as “new Daimler”. But soon people in all countries only talked about “Mercedes cars”.

“We have entered the Mercedes era!”

The first new 35 hp car was delivered to Jellinek on 22 December 1900. This new “Mercedes” developed by Wilhelm Maybach caused a sensation at the start of the century: it was the world’s first modern car. One of its numerous technical innovations was the honeycomb radiator, which needed far less water than before to cool the engine.

Jellinek at any rate was very good at promoting the new type of automobile. As early as 4 January 1901, just a few days after the arrival of the first Mercedes in Nice, the L’Automobile-Revue du Littoral published an article which stated:

There is nothing new to see in Paris right now but in Nice. The first Mercedes car built in the workshops of Cannstatt has arrived in Nice, and thanks to the cooperativeness of its owner, Mr. Jellinek, all car drivers were able to have a close look at it. We make no secret of our opinion: the Mercedes car is very, very interesting. This remarkable vehicle will be a fearsome competitor in the races of 1901.”

At the Nice racing week in late March 1901 the cars with the name Mercedes demonstrated to a large audience just what they were capable of: with four first-place and five second-place finishes the Daimler cars were in a class of their own  both in the long-distance run, the hillclimb and the mile race. The French manufacturer Panhard & Levassor, who had captured first place in all races of the previous year, withdrew its vehicles before the start.

“We were victorious all down the line: the Mercedes car has been launched. Mercedes was the car of the day,” Emil Jellinek said for the record. Paul Meyan, general secretary of the French Automobile Club, coined the phrase: “We have entered the Mercedes era!”

For until then, although the Germans Carl Benz and Gottlieb Daimler were regarded as the inventors of the automobile, the French were considered the better carmakers. The cream of society was enthusiastic about the new vehicle.

In 1901 the American billionaires Rockefeller, Astor, Morgan and Taylor were among the buyers of the powerful Mercedes cars of DMG. Wilhelm Maybach, of whom Jellinek was convinced that he could “invent on command”, and who was celebrated by the French as the king of constructors, developed the new method of building automobiles further. But Maybach shared the kudos with Jellinek: “You and I are the inventors of the Mercedes car,” he wrote later on in a letter.