Mercedes-Benz Brand History: Know What’s the History of Stuttgart-Based Three-Pointed Star Brand

mercedes benz history

Constituting one-third of the “German Big 3” of luxury automobile manufacturers is the Mercedes-Benz, along with Audi and BMW. Mercedes-Benz began its journey to greatness way back in 1886 when Gottlieb Daimler and Karl Benz invented and introduced the first-ever automobile to the world.

History and Evolution

Gottlieb Daimler born in 1834 was a workshop inspector in a machine tool factory in Reutlingen when he met Wilhelm Maybach in 1865. In 1872, he worked as a Technical Director of Deutz Gasmotorenfabrik, a gas engine manufacturing company, where he worked on Otto’s four-stroke technology.

By 1883, the first, high-speed test engine featuring an unregulated hot-tube ignition system was completed. This engine had a speed of 600 rpm and exceeded the maximum speed limit of 120–180 rpm produced by previous engines. Based on this concept, Daimler and Maybach developed an internal combustion engine known as the ‘Grandfather Clock’ in 1884. After that, with the Phoenix engine by Maybach, the Daimler engine earned its name abroad.

In 1871, Karl Benz along with August Ritter founded the Karl Benz and August Ritter Engineering Workshop in Mannheim. During 1878-79, Karl Benz worked on a gas-driven two-stroke engine. He founded the Gasmotorenfabrik Mannheim (Mannheim Gas Engine Factory) in October 1882.

Benz left the company in 1883 and joined Max Rose and Friedrich Wilhelm Esslinger and formed Benz & Cie. Rheinische Gasmotoren-Fabrik Mannheim (Benz & Co. Rhine Gas Engine Factory Mannheim) and launched the two-stroke ‘System Benz’ engine. The economic breakthrough of the company happened with the four-wheeled motorised Velocipede, or called commonly the “Velo” which was produced between 1894 and 1901.

1886 is the most important year in the company’s history. That was when Benz invented the first internal combustion engine for cars, seen in the Benz Patent Motorwagen that was supposedly financed by Bertha Benz, his wife’s dowry due to lack of funding from outside. Daimler and Maybach, in the same year, realised their vision of creating horseless carriages with the addition of a petrol engine.

In 1897, Benz developed the contra engine, the ancestor of our boxer engines.

Over time, Rose and Esslinger grew sceptical of the outcome of Benz’s vision. This led to Benz starting Benz Söhne’ (Karl Benz & Sons) in Ladenburg in 1906 to focus on building vehicles rather than just engines.

Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft (DMG) launched the first Mercedes automobile in 1901. Emil Jellinek registered the trademark in 1902 and named the Mercedes 35 hp after his daughter Mercedes Jellinek. He was a European automobile entrepreneur who worked with (DMG).

Later, DMG registered the name Mercedes as a protected trademark across the world. Karl Benz’s and Gottlieb Daimler’s companies’ were merged into the DaimlerBenz company in 1926 during which year the first Mercedes-Benz vehicles were manufactured.

The newly merged company introduced their first model in the October of 1926 at the Berlin Motor Show. The models unveiled under the new Mercedes-Benz brand name were, The 8/38 hp two-litre car (W 02) and the 12/55 hp three-litre model (W 03).

During the 1930s, the 770 models were launched by Mercedes-Benz. This model was said to be used by Adolf Hitler himself with a customised bulletproof version.

1931: The Mercedes-Benz W15, also called the Typ 170, was launched. The first 4-wheel independent suspension system and a new hydraulic braking technology were introduced in it. It was offered in sedan, cabriolet, sports roadster and military-vehicle versions till 1936.

1936: Launch of the W136 model and the first diesel passenger car.

The W135 roadster and W138 limousine were unveiled just before World War II which halted the production.

In 1937, Daimler Benz focused shifted more towards military products. They manufactured the LG3000 lorry and the DB600 and the DB601 aero engines.

300SL Gullwing became an enormous success in the American market in 1952. The company was very successful during the ’50s. They also re-entered motorsports with victories in the Carrera Panamericana and Le Mans. Overseas expansion of sales and production plants began in the ’50s as well. Studebaker partnered with the companies to offer their cars in their dealerships in the United States of America in 1958.

The 1960s saw the launch of the W110 sedan and station wagon models. The first SL with an automatic transmission is introduced in 1963. ‘Red Sow’ 300SEL 6.3 V8 Saloon was also introduced during this period.

In the 1970s, the SL and SLC 107 series were launched along with the G-Class and S-Class series. Mercedes-Benz AMG introduced class-leading safety features like the Antilock Braking System (ABS) in 1978.

Path-breaking technological developments in 1980s:

  • 5-arm rear multilink suspension on the 190-Class in 1982
  • 4MATIC all-wheel drive on the AWD E-Class

In the early ’90s, Mercedes-Benz removed the harmful CFC chemicals from the air conditioning systems of its vehicles.

Daimler-Benz merged with the Chrysler Corporation in 1998. It lasted for the next 9 years. The company also exited from its cooperative partnerships companies with Hyundai Motor Company and Mitsubishi Motors. In 2007, the company got rechristened as Daimler AG.

New technologies in the ’90s and 2000s:

1992: Controller Area Network

1995: Electronic Stability Program ESP

1997: SmartKey for convenience and theft protection

2002: PRE-SAFE safety system

2010: Driver monitoring system- Attention Assist

In November 2019, Daimler AG decided that Mercedes-Benz will be transformed into a wholly-owned subsidiary called the Mercedes-Benz AG. Mercedes-Benz car and van business will come under the new Mercedes-Benz subsidiary while the Mercedes-Benz-badged trucks and buses remain under the Daimler Truck AG subsidiary.

The Sign of the Three-Pointed Star

The three-pointed star is the trademark symbol of the Mercedes-Benz, seen in the bonnets of all its models. In the 1870s, Gottlieb wrote to his wife in a postcard that a three-pointed star to mark his residence that one day this star will shine over our triumphant factories”. Inspired by this, both Daimler and Maybach developed light and powerful engines for “land, water, and air”.

Paul and Adolf Daimler after their father’s death suggested using this symbol as a trademark of the company. The three-dimensional three-pointed star, contained in a circle was registered by Daimler-Benz as the company symbol in 1937.

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