Pump the Brakes: Born this Day, Emil Jellinek

Mille Miglia, 03.-04.05.1952. Das Fahrerteam Kling / Kleng (Startnummer 623) mit einem Mercedes-Benz Typ 300 SL Rennsportwagen (W 194). Photo courtesy of Daimler AG

The Businessman Behind the Commission and Name of the first Mercedes Vehicle

When the name “Mercedes” is mentioned, thoughts of elegance, grace and speed race through the reader’s mind. Today (April 6th), marks the birthday of that successful businessman who commissioned an engineer to create the first Mercedes automobile.

Emil Jellinek-Mercedes was born on this day, April 6, 1853, in Leipzig, Germany, and created a revolutionary car company that spans an entire century of a legacy. Jellinek was a successful entrepreneur and businessman who had a passion for racing and cars that began with a simple vehicle purchase that spawned a desire for a higher quality vehicle.

Jellinek first began buying cars from Daimler Motoren Gesellschaft (DMG), a company that was founded by Gottlieb Daimler. In fact, the first four-cylinder engine car in the world was one of the vehicles purchased by Jellinek and was known then as the DMG-Phoenix. He found the cars favorable and after meeting with Daimler, he began selling them after becoming an agent and distributor for DMG.

Eventually this passion and motivation spawned the first Mercedes created by Daimler’s chief engineer and was dubbed as one of the first “modern cars.” With the creation of the vehicle, Emil began to race with it and wipe out most of his competition throughout France in 1901.

His name “Mercedes” was added to his own name shortly after he trademarked the name in 1902. The name Mercedes was that of his 11-year old and he endearingly named the car after her.

Jallinek’s retired from the auto business in 1908, and lived a quiet retirement until he passed away in 1918 at the age of 64. In 1926, Daimler Motoren Gesellschaft combined with Benz and Cie. Vehicles began to be produced under the moniker of “Mercedes-Benz.” The rest as they say, and the legacy of Jellinek, is history.

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