Mercedes 35 hp
(from DaimlerChrysler Press Release) The Austrian businessman Emil Jellinek, who lived in Nice at the turn of the twentieth century, and at the time was already known as "Monsieur Mercedes", was virtually addicted to technical progress - above all to the newly invented car, its speed and its performance. He was filled with excitement not only by the sport instrument, but also by the sales prospects. So, in March 1900, under the pseudonym "Mercedes", the name of his daughter, who was ten at the time, he entered two Daimler "Phoenix" racing cars with 28 hp engines in the Nice race week. To support him, Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft (DMG) sent Wilhelm Bauer, an experienced master mechanic who knew the vehicles inside out.
1900: a fateful year for Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft (DMG)
DMG had expected a more positive course
of business at the start of the new century. Two black days in March
1900 changed the state of affairs. On March 6, Gottlieb Daimler,
inventor of the high-speed gas engine and co-founder of DMG, died aged
65. On the 30th of the same month, Wilhelm Bauer had a fatal accident in
the very first curve of the hillclimb race from Nice to La Turbie. This
marked the end of the Daimler "Phoenix" cars: afterwards, DMG adopted a
highly reserved attitude to motor sport.
Pressure of time: the ingenious success of Wilhelm Maybach
As matters stood, only an extensively new design came into consideration for the car demanded by Jellinek. But how could this be done in the remaining, unusually short time before October 15, the desired delivery date?
Aluminum crankcase, two camshafts, controlled intake valves
First of all, Maybach developed the new
engine for the "Mercedes" car, the outline for which was already in his
mind. The horizontally divided crankcase was for the first time made
from aluminum. The cylinders, made in pairs from gray cast iron,
featured cylinder heads which formed part of the castings, unlike the
removable ones in the "Phoenix" car. With a bore/stroke ratio of 116 x
140 mm, the engine had a total displacement of 5918 cc, a good 400 cc
more than in the "Phoenix" car.
Smoother operation, less weight
All these improvements ultimately resulted in much smoother operation, more stable idling and good acceleration - a new quality in engine characteristics, which at that time was hardly believed possible. In addition to this the engine weight was reduced by 90 kg to around 230 kg.
Engine directly bolted to the chassis, pressed frame side members
Maybach no longer installed the engine into a chassis subframe, as was usually the case at that time. Instead, he narrowed the front frame section ahead of the pedal level, permitting the engine to be directly bolted to the side members. The latter were no longer laboriously beaded but for the first time made of pressed sheet steel by DMG. Both these measures not only reduced the weight but also provided for the lower center of gravity that Maybach was aiming at.
New coil spring clutch, single-lever gate shift, improved steering
Another completely new design was the
highly compact and automatically adjusting clutch, a coil spring made of
spring steel, which with the help of a small drum was attached to the
transmission shaft and fastened inside the flywheel. Further development
of the car at a later stage benefited from this design. A conical cam
regulated the spring tension during declutching.
Longer wheelbase, wider track, more effective brakes
Compared to the "Phoenix" car, the
wheelbase was markedly longer (2245 millimeters) and the track wider
(1400 mm) - giving the new car significantly greater stability. Apart
from that, wheels of virtually the same size were now, at last, used on
the two axles, albeit in the traditional wooden twelve-spoke design.
Engine cooling: no longer a problem thanks to honeycomb radiator
One of the most sensational inventions on
this first "Mercedes" - and one that has essentially remained unchanged
to this day - was the honeycomb radiator.
Sensational appearance of the 35 hp "Mercedes"
The new car was for the first time tested
on November 22, 1900, and the first "Mercedes" was delivered to Jellinek
on December 22. Before long, the styling design of the first "real" car
in history set the trend for the rest of the automotive industry,
causing a 'landslide' in design. The car's elongated silhouette, high
performance, honeycomb radiator, low-slung engine hood, long wheelbase,
shift gate, obliquely installed steering, equal-sized wheels on the two
axles and low weight were from then on regarded standard components of
the modern automobile.
The successor: 40 hp Mercedes-Simplex
Naturally, Maybach and DMG were more than happy about the success of the 35 hp car and its lasting appreciation by buyers, automotive experts and the public at large. As early as March 1901, the product range was extended by the addition of the smaller 12/16 hp Mercedes and in August by a third model, the 8/11 hp Mercedes. Maybach began further developing the first Mercedes series in the fall of 1901 already. To start with, the 40 hp Mercedes-Simplex was designed as a new top model and direct successor to the 35 hp Mercedes. Its wheelbase was extended to 2450 millimeters, its operation made easier by the "automatic" declutching and deceleration of the drive shaft upon actuation of the shift lever. The improvement of operational comfort at this early stage is reflected by the model's epithet, "Simplex".
Better performance, flywheel fan, fourth brake, reduced weight
While the engine's external dimensions
remained unchanged, bore and stroke were modified, raising displacement
to 6786 cc and output to 40 hp. The camshafts were encapsulated and a
single carburetor was installed with a new pre-heating unit which
improved the atomizing effect of Maybach's air nozzle.