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DID YOU KNOW: Mercedes was named for an 11-year-old girl?

On April 2, 1900, Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft began calling its automobiles Mercédès

Published: April 3, 2020, 4:15 PM
Updated: April 3, 2020, 8:21 PM

1902 Mercedes Simplex 40hp - The oldest Mercedes still existing, this 1902 Mercedes-Simplex holds a place of honour in the Mercedes-Benz Museum.

It was 120 years ago, on April 2, 1900, that Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft decided to call its automobiles Mercédès, after the 11-year-old daughter of an important customer and dealer. Her father, Emil Jellinek was an Austrian businessman, who lived in Nice and traded in Daimler vehicles as well as registering them for racing events.

Mercedes Jellinek - Mercedes Jellinek, age 11, for whom the car and subsequently the brand was named.

The first vehicle with this melodious Spanish name – the Mercedes 35 PS – caused a sensation at the Nice race week as early as March 1901. It drew attention not only because of its highly advanced technology – allowing it to win several races there – but also because of its exceptionally elegant design.

The Mercedes 35 hp is regarded as the prototype of the modern automobile and, with its progressive vehicle architecture, has become a model for the entire automobile industry. Paul Meyan, then Secretary General of the Automobile Club of France, said after the race week: “We have entered the Mercedes era.”

1902 Mercedes Simplex 40hp - The oldest Mercedes still existing, this 1902 Mercedes-Simplex holds a place of honour in the Mercedes-Benz Museum.

From then on, the curved “Mercédès” lettering adorned the radiators of Daimler passenger cars. The name was registered as a trademark on June 23, 1902 and legally protected on September 26, 1902.

Since then, the brand name – which was changed to Mercedes-Benz after the merger of the Daimler and Benz companies in June 1926 – has been synonymous with luxury, performance and technology.

Vision Mercedes Simplex sketch - The name and its flowing script are 100 years old.

To this day, Mercedes-Benz is the only automotive brand that bears a female name. "Women like Mercédès Jellinek or Bertha Benz shaped the success story of Mercedes-Benz from the start," says Bettina Fetzer, head of Marketing Mercedes-Benz AG.