Happy 125th birthday to the automobile–courtesy of Mercedes-Benz!

27 Jan 2011 | 4,992 views | No Comment
By Don Hammonds Do you love cars? Well, you might want to dash off an e-mail, send a birthday card, or dash off to your local Mercedes-Benz dealership and say a heartfelt thank you. That's because the venerable luxury car manufacturer built the very first automobile, and we all know what came next for us car lovers--an important source of joy, personal freedom, and not a small amount of big fun, too. As a news release from Mercedes says, " It was on 29 January 1886 that Carl Benz filed an application in Berlin for a patent on his three-wheeled motor car. Ever since, that day has been considered the official birthday of the motor car, which, in 2011, celebrates its 125th anniversary. " "At the same time as Benz, Gottlieb Daimler was developing the first four-wheeled motor car. In this way, working independently of each other, the founding fathers of today's Daimler AG and its globally successful Mercedes-Benz core brand laid the foundation stone for all present-day passenger cars, commercial vehicles and buses. The company that invented the motor car has since that time gone on to shape its development more diversely and endur-ingly than any other motor vehicle manufacturer - in all relevant areas, from drive technology to comfort and safety through to design."   Of course, Mercedes is pointing to a long list of innovations that the company says have changed the history and design of automobiles since 125 years ago, and they point to the fact that they  have held over 80,000 patent applications since 1886, the year in which Carl Benz and Gottlieb Daimler, respectively, unveiled their "Patent-Motorwagen" and "motorised carriage". A company news release says, "As the world's first car, the Benz Patent-Motorwagen is the symbol of pioneering spirit par excellence. In its day, the exquisitely engineered three-wheeler made it clear at first sight that a new age of mobility had dawned. Daimler's motorised carriage was the first motor car with four wheels."   The first car to bear the Mercedes brand name was the  "35 hp",  at the turn of the century, which has been dubbed the first modern-day motor car.  Mercedes-Benz officials pointed to engine technology as an example of  their drive for innovation. "The high-speed petrol engine was, in the truest sense of the word, the "driving force" behind the invention of the motor car. The Daimler 8 hp "Phaeton", unveiled in 1898, was the first road-going vehicle to feature a four-cylinder engine. In 1923 Benz launched the first diesel-engined truck. Another trendsetting Mercedes innovation was a diesel engine suitable for use in passenger cars, which was introduced in 1936: in the world's first volume-produced diesel passenger car, the Mercedes-Benz 260 D," the news release said. Safety innovations have been a priority for Mercedes, too over the 125 year period. "Nowhere in the world is there a manufacturer that has invested more in the development of automotive safety than Mercedes-Benz. For 70 years now, the safety experts at Mercedes have been systematically at work studying the causes of accidents, lessening their consequences and helping to avoid accidents. Mercedes's comprehensive commitment is demonstrated by no fewer than three anniversaries in 2009: "70 years of safety development", "50 years of the rigid passenger compartment" and "40 years of accident research,"  the news release said. "As far as passive safety is concerned, the focus is on affording the vehicle occupants the best possible protection in the event of an accident. An example of this is the rigid passenger compartment with crumple zones, which was patented by Mercedes-Benz in 1951 and went into series production for the first time in 1959 in the 220 S and 220 SE "Fintail models". Seat belt and airbag are further examples of innovations that were introduced into series production by Mercedes-Benz as original solutions to real-world problems." Mercedes officials provided a list of some of their safety milestones: 1939 – Inception of passenger-car safety development 1959 – World's first safety body 1969 - Establishment of Mercedes-Benz accident research 1978 – Electronically controlled anti-lock braking system (ABS) 1980 – Pyrotechnic airbag, seat belt tensioner 1989 – Automatically raised roll-over bar 1995 - Electronic Stability Program (ESP®) 1996 - Brake Assist (BAS) 1998 – DISTRONIC adaptive cruise control 1999 – Active Body Control (ABC), tyre pressure monitor 2002 – PRE-SAFE® preventive occupant protection system 2003 - Active light function 2005 - DISTRONIC PLUS, Brake Assist PLUS, Night View Assist 2006 - PRE-SAFE® Brake, Intelligent Light System 2009 - Speed Limit Assist, Lane Keeping Assist, Blind Spot Assist, ATTENTION ASSIST drowsiness detection 2010 - Active Lane Keeping Assist, Active Blind Spot Assist; LED high-performance headlamps   Over the years, Mercedes has not only been a pioneer in technology, but the company also has been a pioneer in spearheading new market niches for automobiles.  For example, company officials say, the SLK, which was unveiled in 1996, was the first compact premium roadster. "This was followed one year later by the M-Class, the first premium SUV, which owed its development to experience gained by Mercedes engineers in connection with all-wheel drive technology for the legendary G-Class and the Unimog. The most recent example is the CLS, which in 2004 established the segment of the four-door coupé. What is more, the sheer breadth of technical innovations to have first entered the marketplace in Mercedes models is proof that the inventor of the motor car has consistently played a leading role in all key aspects of the further development of this means of transport – from drive technology to safety and comfort through to design," the 125th anniversary news release said. Want to see some of Mercedes' more historic cars?  Here's a few of them, courtesy of Mercedes' archives: 1900 35 horsepower 1905 American Mercedes 1910 Chain power Mercedes 1934 to 1937 Silver arrow race cars 1936 to 1937 540K 1936 260 D 1954 300 SL 1955 S220 Ponton Coupe 1964 Mercedes-Benz 600 Pullman 1982 190 1984 Mercedes W124 E Class 2011 SLS AMG Want still more?  See more pictures of older Mercedes and enjoy a brief history of Mercedes, toio. It's all under our "automobile history" section.

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