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December 14th, 2018

Think you know everything about Mercedes-Benz? Even if you do, we thought you might enjoy a little reminder of 10 cool things you might’ve known, but hopefully did not, about one of the most important and celebrated automobile companies in the world. This article is presented by www.onlinecarparts.co.uk

1. Karl Benz Invented the Automobile

Karl Benz
Karl Benz. Photo: Mercedes-Benz

Were you thinking Henry Ford? Ford didn’t actually invent the automobile. He didn’t invent the assembly line, either. In fact, it was Karl Benz who’s credited with building the world’s first “patentable” automobile. And that’s literally what he called it: the “Patent Motorwagen.” It made its debut in 1886 and provided the most basic of templates for all of our internal combustion-powered, ground-based vehicles. The steel and wood speed demon conjured up a blistering two-thirds of a horsepower — or, you know, nearly a horse’s worth.

2. Smooth and Bump-Free Handling? Thank Mercedes-Benz

Mercedes-Benz 170
Mercedes-Benz 170 V. Photo: Mercedes-Benz

This venerable car company has been sporting brakes on all four wheels of its automobiles since 1924. That’s before most of their peers came to the same conclusions about driver and passenger safety. Mercedes-Benz made another leap forward just six years later, in 1931, with the Mercedes-Benz 170 model, which added four-wheel suspension to its four-wheel brake getup. And even the suspension system was innovative: it placed coil springs in the rear and leaf springs up front.

3. The “Mercedes” in “Mercedes-Benz” Was a Racecar Driver

Emil Jellinek and his daughter Mercedes
Emil Jellinek and his daughter Mercedes. Photo: Mercedes-Benz

Not surprisingly, the Mercedes-Benz name itself has a strong racing pedigree. A late-1800s hobbyist racecar driver and businessman named Emil Jellinek actually provided the first half of the name “Mercedes-Benz.” “Mercedes” was a pseudonym used by Jellinek whenever he’d drive Daimler-brand racing cars in races. Where’d “Mercedes” come from? It was was actually the name of his daughter. Daimler was touched enough by all of this that he registered the word “Mercedes” as a trademark and began implementing it into branding in 1902.

4. The Mercedes-Benz Logo Almost Had a Callout to Space Travel

You know the logo well: it’s a circle with a three-pointed star in the middle. But did you know each point of the star represents a different type of travel? The logo today represents land, air and water travel. Initially, however, the logo had a fourth point on its star, representing travel in outer space. The company has experimented with methods of transportation not confined to the ground, but travel by land is still, and might always be, their bread and butter.

5. Bosch and Mercedes-Benz Popularized Anti-Lock Brakes

Mercedes-Benz ABS System testing on the W116 S-Class
Mercedes-Benz ABS System testing on the W116 S-Class. Photo: Mercedes-Benz

You absolutely do not want your brakes locking up when the you-know-what hits the fan. These two great companies knew this back in the ’70s, which is why they paired up to make the 1978 S-Class the first model to come standard with anti-lock brakes. Where would we be without this little side-project?

6. Gottlieb Daimler Accidentally Invented the Motorcycle

Gottlieb Daimler Reitwagen
Gottlieb Daimler Reitwagen. Photo: Wikimedia

It’s true: Gottlieb Daimler — founder of Daimler-Benz — invented the world’s first motorcycle … accidentally! While Daimler was tinkering with a new design for an engine in 1885, he discovered it fit perfectly on a wooden frame he’d built based on the design of his bicycle. This so-called “Einspur” — “single track” — vehicle became what is still thought to be the world’s first motorcycle.

7. Mercedes-Benz Created a Functional Hybrid Car in 1906

In 1912, Popular Mechanics published one of the first science-backed articles about climate change driven by human activity. Six years earlier even than this, in 1906, Mercedes-Benz introduced the world to one of the earliest hybrid vehicles. Their “Mixte” model wasn’t the first attempt by a major car company, but it might’ve shown the most potential: a gas engine powered the vehicle only when needed, and otherwise deferred to two electric motors at the rear. It had a maximum speed of 75 miles per hour.

8. Mercedes-Benz Has Been Testing Driverless Cars for Decades

Mercedes-Benz W140 S-Class
Mercedes-Benz W140 S-Class was used for Eureka PROMETHEUS. Photo: Mercedes-Benz

Almost a quarter-century ago, a 1995 W140 S-Class equipped with a computer and specialised hardware drove 1,000 miles, mostly unassisted, on the Autobahn. At some points along its journey, the car reached speeds of 115 miles per hour. This project named “Eureka PROMETHEUS” was an early proof-of-concept of technology the company is still working today, in the name of safety and autonomy.

9. “Crumple Zones” Are a Mercedes-Benz Invention

Early Mercedes-Benz Crash Tests
Early Mercedes-Benz Crash Tests. Photo: autoevolution

Mercedes-Benz made another major contribution to automotive safety in 1959. This time, one of the automaker’s engineers, Béla Barényi, had a flash of inspiration to build open metal “cells” into key areas on their vehicles. These cells added material to the vehicle, but they were also designed to crumple — hence the name — in the event of an impact. The idea was that this would spread out the incoming force and help shield the driver from harm. They were right, and crumple zones became standard on automobiles everywhere. You’ll know who to thank during your next fender bender!

10. Bertha Benz Took the First-Ever Road Trip

Bertha Benz Patent Motorwagen project
Bertha Benz driving the Patent Motorwagen project. Photo: Mercedes-Benz

Not to be outshined by her husband, Karl Benz’s wife, Bertha, made significant contributions of her own that we should probably all be thanking her for. Bertha didn’t just contribute significant funding to the Patent Motorwagen project — she also helped put it through its paces once it was complete. In order to show the world how viable a mode of transport it was, Bertha crammed her two sons into the Motorwagen and shambled from Mannheim to Pforzheim — an at-the-time unthinkable distance of 120 miles — and completed the first-ever “road trip” as we know it. The area in which she traveled yielded the first-ever fuel station for cars. Not bad, Bertha!

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