A star is born as Mercedes dominates week of racing
France was very much the leading light of the car industry at the turn of the 20th century.
However, the German company that had invented the car itself, Daimler, was about to stake its claim in a major way with an innovative new model, named the Mercedes, during a week of competition in cosmopolitan, forward-thinking Nice.
The new Mercedes 35hp was the brainchild of Daimler’s biggest customer, a dealer in France called Emil Jellinek, and was engineered by Wilhelm Maybach. Mercedes-Benz today boasts this was “the first modern car”, and that’s fair, as it gave the horseless carriage a longer wheelbase, a wider track, a lower centre of gravity, a more powerful engine and more closely co-ordinated systems.
“The entire workmanship, design and performance of this car have struck terror into the heart of a capable critic like Paul Meyan, who warns the French manufacturers that the pride of place in autocar building is about to be wrested from them by the Germans,” we reported.
Wilhelm Werner easily won the Nice-La Turbie hillclimb, breezed the promenade speed trials and averaged 36.6mph in the 279-mile race over the Esterel mountains to take Mercedes’ first-ever race win.
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