Monday 9th February 1846
Born on this day, Wilhelm Maybach, the car engine, designer and industrialist. In 1885, Maybach and his mentor, the German engineer Gottlieb Daimler (1834-1900), developed a new high-speed, four-stroke internal combustion engine. (Nikolaus Otto is credited with inventing the first functioning four-stroke engine.) Maybach and Daimler fixed their engine to a bicycle to create what is referred to as the first-ever motorcycle. The two men later attached their engine to a carriage, producing a motorized vehicle. In 1890, Daimler and several partners established Daimler Motoren Gelleschaft (Daimler Motor Company) to build engines and automobiles. Maybach, who served as the company’s chief designer, developed the first Mercedes automobile in 1900. The Mercedes was commissioned by auto dealer and racer Emil Jellinek, who wanted a new car to sell to his rich clients in the French Riviera, and named after Jellinek’s daughter. Gottlieb Daimler died in March 1900 and Maybach left the Daimler company in 1907. He later went into business with his engineer son Karl (1879-1960) and in 1921 they debuted their first car, the Maybach Type W3, at a Berlin auto show. For the next two decades, Maybach became known for developing powerful, technologically sophisticated custom-built vehicles for the wealthy, including the super-luxurious, top-of-the-line Zeppelin model. Wilhelm Maybach died on December 29, 1929, at the age of 83.