Makers of the motorcar.
When Gottlieb Daimler and Karl Benz invented the high-speed engine and the automobile independently of each other in the 1880s, they laid the foundations for motorised private transport. With the help of financial backers and partners, both engineers carried out individual development work at their own companies. Benz founded Benz & Co. Rheinische Gasmotoren-Fabrik in Mannheim in October 1883; the Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft (DMG) was established in Cannstatt in November 1890.
Both companies wanted to come up with a memorable trademark to make their products both distinctive and familiar. Initially, they opted for their own names – Benz and Daimler – to represent the origins and quality of their engines and vehicles. The Benz & Cie. trademark did not change (though the gearwheel used in 1903 was replaced by a laurel wreath encircling the Benz name from 1909). However, the products of DMG appeared under the new brand name Mercedes at the turn of the century.
The first steps.
Together with businessman Max Rose and trade representative Friedrich Wilhelm Esslinger Karl Benz founded the Benz & Co. Rheinische Gasmotoren-Fabrik (called Benz & Cie. after 1899) as a public incorporated corporation.
The number of company employees grew rapidly to 25 and licences for building gas engines were issued. Financially secure, Benz could now focus all his energy on car engine development. To do so, he began with the design of an all-encompassing vehicle in which to integrate his four-stroke petrol engine. His competitor Daimler, on the other hand, integrated his first engine in a carriage. In 1886, Karl Benz was granted a patent for his vehicle and presented the first "Benz Patent-Motorwagen" (Benz Patent Motor Car) to the public.
Three versions of the three-wheeled vehicle were produced between 1885 and 1887: model no. 1 was presented by Benz to the German Museum in 1906; model no. 2 is assumed to have been modified and reconstructed several times; and model no. 3, which featured wooden-spoke wheels, was driven by Bertha Benz on the first long-distance automobile trip in 1888.
Growing demand for stationary engines enabled Benz & Co. Rheinische Gasmotoren-Fabrik to move to a larger production facility. Following the arrival of new partners, Friedrich von Fischer and Julius Ganß, in 1890, the Rheinische Gasmotoren-Fabrik advanced to the status of second-largest engine manufacturer in Germany. In 1893, Karl Benz introduced axle-pivot steering to the automotive industry. He also developed the "contra" engine, the forerunner to today’s boxer engine, in 1896.
The first Mercedes.
In early April 1900, DMG and Jellinek agreed to the sale and distribution of Daimler cars and engines. When the decision was taken to develop a new engine bearing the name "Daimler-Mercedes", Jellinek’s pseudonym also became a product name.
On 22 December 1900, the Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft delivered to Jellinek the first car equipped with a new engine – a 35 hp racing car. The vehicle was far above and beyond the vehicles previously designed and built by DMB and ended the "coach" era in automotive construction. Developed by Wilhelm Maybach, Chief Design Engineer at DMG, this first "Mercedes" caused a sensation at the beginning of the last century. With its low centre of gravity, a compressed-steel frame, the light and powerful engine and the honeycomb radiator, it introduced many innovations and is seen today as the first automobile of its generation.
The Three-Pointed Star.
DMG has used the successful, patent-protected, brand name "Mercedes" since September 1902. But there was still no distinctive trademark. Gottlieb Daimler’s sons, Paul and Adolf, recalled that their father had previously used a three-pointed star as a symbol.
Gottlieb Daimler was the Technical Director of Deutz Gasmotorenfabrik from 1872 to 1881. At the beginning of his period of employment, he had marked his house on a picture of Cologne and Deutz with a three-pointed star. He predicted to his wife that this star would one day rise gloriously above his production plant.
The DMG Board of Management seized on this prediction and in June 1909 registered both a three-pointed and four-pointed star as trademarks. Both logos were legally protected, but it was the three-pointed star that was ultimately used. A three-dimensional star featured on the front radiator of vehicles from 1910 onwards. The three-pointed star was also intended as a symbol for Daimler’s principle of universal motorisation "on the ground, on water and in the air". Over the years it underwent a number of design amendments. In 1916, for example, a circle was placed around the star, in which four small stars and the word Mercedes or the name of the DMG plants Untertürkheim and Berlin-Marienfelde were inserted.