Mercedes-Benz Heritage

"The best or nothing at all" is an ambitious goal by any standard. In fact, you might say goals simply don't get more ambitious than this. Yet it's the goal that has shaped the vision and direction of Mercedes-Benz from the outset. Just as it seems to have been the goal that inspired the company's two founding fathers, Karl Benz and Gottlieb Daimler, even before their paths converged.

Innovation - the first automobile

On January 29th 1886, Karl Benz was granted German patent number 37435 for his invention, the Patent-Motorwagen, recognised today as the first automobile.In 1897 Gottlieb Daimler produced the "Phönix"-Wagen, the first vehicle to feature a front-mounted engine, the forerunner of today's motor cars. The Daimler and Benz companies merged in 1926 to survive the post-war economic conditions, although the two creators never actually met.In 1939 the company developed a range of new safety features, including side-impact protection, stiffened floor and a multi-piece steering column.

What's in a name?

In 1900, Emil Jellinek, the Daimler distributor for Austria-Hungary, France and Belgium ordered 36 of the latest more powerful Daimlers. He had one stipulation, that they be named after his twelve-year-old daughter Mercedes. Improbable as this sounds, the board agreed to this arrangement. The rest, as they say, is history.

"On land, on water and in the air" - from 1909 onwards, the distinctive three-pointed star was used to symbolise Gottlieb Daimler's ambition to bring the benefits of motorisation to all modes of transport. In 1916 the points of the star were surrounded by a circle, and the now-legendary design became a registered trademark in August 1923.

Engineering and Design 'World Firsts'

In 1959 Mercedes-Benz became the first car manufacturer to develop impact and roll-over tests, and to produce the world's first production car designed to reduce injury in the event of an accident.

In 1978 Mercedes-Benz introduced probably the greatest pioneering achievement - the first Anti-lock Braking System on the S-Class model. In 1979, having invented them, we became the first manufacturer to fit inertia-reel seatbelts and front seat head restraints on all of our vehicles as standard.

In 1981, we introduced the first-ever driver's airbag, followed in 1988 by a passenger airbag.

In 1997, we put big car safety within the design of smaller models, by creating a unique impact-resistant sandwich floor design for our new Mercedes A-Class.