Friday 4th March 1887
The Daimler “benzin motor carriage” made its first test run in Esslingen and Cannstatt, Germany. It was Gottlieb Daimler’s first four-wheel motor vehicle. The “benzin” has nothing to do with Carl Benz; at that time Gottlieb Daimler was Carl Benz’s major competitor. Daimler, an engineer whose passion was the engine itself, had created and patented the first gasoline-powered, water-cooled, internal combustion engine in 1885. In Daimler’s engine, water circulated around the engine block, preventing the engine from overheating. The same system is used in most of today’s automobiles. Daimler’s first four-wheel motor vehicle had a one-cylinder engine and a top speed of 10 miles per hour. By 1899, Daimler’s German competitor, Benz and Company, had become the world’s largest car manufacturer. In the same year, a wealthy Austrian businessman named Emile Jellinek saw a Daimler Phoenix win a race in Nice, France. So impressed was he with Daimler’s car that he offered to buy 36 vehicles from Daimler should he create a more powerful model, but requested that the car be named after his daughter, Mercedes. Gottlieb Daimler would never see the result of his business deal with Jellinek, but his corporation would climb to great heights without him. The Mercedes began a revolution in the car manufacturing industry. The new car was lower to the ground than other vehicles of its time, and it possessed a wider wheelbase for improved cornering. It had four speeds, including reverse, and it reached a top speed of 47 mph. The first Mercedes had a four-cylinder engine and is generally considered the first modern car. In the year of its birth, the Mercedes set a world speed record of 49.4 mph in Nice, France–the very course that was responsible for its marque’s conception. By 1905, Mercedes cars had reached speeds of 109 mph. Forever reluctant to enter car racing, Carl Benz realized he must compete with Daimler’s Mercedes to preserve his company’s standing in the automotive industry. For 20 years, Mercedes and Benz competed on racetracks around the world. In 1926, the Daimler and Benz corporations merged. The two founders never met.