In 1886, Karl Benz received the world’s first patent for the Benz Patent Motorwagen, which provided the foundation for Mercedes-Benz, and the dawn of motoring.Throughout its 125-year-old history, the German automaker has been responsible for some of the world’s most revolutionary motor sports and production vehicles.At the turn of the century, Benz was in spirited competition with Gottlieb Daimler who was responsible for the first high-speed engine. The two automotive innovators eventually merged in 1926, forming Daimler Benz AG. The “Mercedes” part of the name was added as a reference to the daughter of a successful Daimler racecar driver.
Mike Kunz manages the Mercedes Classics Center in Irvine, Calif. High on his list for most influential Mercedes cars is the 1888 Benz Patent Motorwagen Type 3, which was the first car ever sold — only 25 were made. “(It) proved the essence of a car by overcoming distances and bringing people together through Berta Benz’s historic 60 mile road trip in an automobile,” Kunz says. He also includes the 1900 Mercedes 35hp. “All future automobiles find their lineage in this design.”
He ranks the1936 Mercedes-Benz 540K, the diesel 1936 Mercedes-Benz 260D and the 1954 Mercedes-Benz 300SL –the world’s first official super car, built with direct fuel injection —as game changing automobiles. Rounding out his pick of most influential Mercedes is the 1982 Mercedes-Benz 190. “Karl’s spirit of innovation lives on today in every new product we release,” said Kunz. “Benz, Daimler and Mercedes-Benz always have and continue to be in the forefront of defining future mobility. By inventing the car, we have a responsibility to make it better.”
For in depth information on the legacy of Mercedes, The Star and the Laurel by Beverly Rae Kimes is a thorough primer. The Mercedes-Benz Museum also has an app for the iPhone and iPad available in the iTunes store covering the brand’s lustrous history.