Mercedes-Benz is one of the most storied automakers in the world and its heritage can be traced all the way back to 1886 when Karl Benz was granted a patent for the Benz Patent Motorwagen, the world’s first automobile. The company touts its many feats in the world of motorsport, technological innovations, widely hailed engineering prowess, and meticulous craftsmanship, but many people are unfamiliar with some of the nuances of Mercedes’ long history as the world’s first and oldest automaker.
First Road Trip By Car
While most people know that Karl Benz invented the first automobile in 1886, many don’t know about the world’s first road trip. In 1888, it was crazy to think that someone would drive an internal combustion engine-powered machine long distances, but Bertha Benz, Karl’s wife, did just that. The feat is forever enshrined in the canon of automotive history and the path that she took on her 60-mile journey is officially named the Bertha Benz Memorial Route in honor of her achievement.
Mercedes Almost Bought BMW
The economic landscape was rough in post-WW2 Germany and while Mercedes-Benz was able to recover, BMW was in financial turmoil during much of the ’50s. With BMW on the verge of bankruptcy in 1959, Mercedes-Benz attempted to take over the Bavarian automaker, but BMW management, investors, and laborers saved the company from the takeover at the last minute.
Ferdinand Porsche Engineered for Mercedes
Immediately prior to starting his own company, Ferdinand Porsche worked as the chief engineer for Mercedes. Ferdinand Porsche actually designed the supercharged SSK model, a car that was widely hailed as one of the greatest sports cars of its day and is still considered one of the most significant Mercedes models ever produced. The SSK earned a well-deserved spot in the canon of historic racing machines due to its advanced engineering and then-stellar performance.
Gottlieb Daimler Invented the Motorcycle
Mercedes-Benz was officially founded in 1926 when Gottlieb Daimler’s Daimler Motoren Gesellschaft merged with Karl Benz’s Benz & Cie. The merger of these two companies represented the fusion of some of the time’s most advanced engineering knowledge and storied patent holders. Not only did Karl Benz hold the patent and acclaim for inventing the first car, but Gottlieb Daimler was the inventor of the ‘Reitwagen,’ or riding carriage, also known as the world’s first motorcycle.
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