The Mercedes Benz Mystique

Nothing really says you’ve made it like driving a Mercedes Benz. But why? What is it about this kind of car that exudes luxury and status?

For older drivers, there’s no denying that Mercedes has a sense of history that even today adds to the brand’s mystique.

Gottlieb Daimler got his start in 1886, when he built a true ‘horseless carriage’. He was considered the father of the internal combustion engine. When he died in 1890, he left control of his company to William Maybach, his chief engineer. He also left a deal with one Mr. Steinway (the piano man) to market Daimler vehicles in the United States.

Carl Benz also started in 1886. He built a motorized three-wheeler that year, followed that up with the first motorized four-wheeled vehicle in 1893 (his Victoria model), and his first production model appeared in 1894 (the Benz Velo). A year later he also turned trucks.

History tells us that the two inventors never knew each other, but that they would eventually become one company that would produce one of the world’s most important symbols of automotive luxury. It all started with a girl.

The year Daimler died, his company built a custom vehicle for car racer Emil Jellinek, who named it after his daughter Mercedes.

After the First World War, the German economy suffered and the Benz company looked for a partner to keep the business going. A Benz board member first approached the Daimler company in 1919, and after several false starts, the two companies merged in 1926. They chose their now-famous three-pointed star surrounded by a laurel wreath as their product symbol and adopted the name Mercedes-Benz. .

In the 1920s, a Benz cost almost 25 million German marks. Combine that high price tag with the flamboyant lifestyle of men like Jellinek who praise the car and you get a brand known as the pinnacle of luxury. Not to mention that the cars are still pricey and often include innovative features that haven’t been seen in vehicles from other manufacturers for years, such as fuel injection and anti-lock brakes.

On the other hand, maybe it’s the vaunted German engineering, at least for car enthusiasts.

Mercedes started in Germany and became a big fixture in the car racing world (maybe Jellinek helped them get started). Race cars from the early days were often custom cars and showcased the engineering skills of the companies that made them. Starting with the Simplex design in the early 1900s, Mercedes became the dominant force in racing.

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For a car enthusiast, nothing says you’ve got the “in” machine like claiming that the engineering skills that have won Le Mans for years are under your hood.

So whether it’s the colorful history, price tag or engineering required to create a car that many consider a work of art, nothing says style, luxury and craftsmanship quite like a Mercedes-Benz. Maybe that’s why Janis Joplin asked God to buy her one.