Celebrating Mercedes-Benz: A Glorious History of Innovation and Milestones

From the World’s First Automobile to Iconic S-Class Innovations: Mercedes-Benz’s 140-Year Legacy

Words Anna James
December 26, 2023
From the World’s First Automobile to Iconic S-Class Innovations: Mercedes-Benz’s 140-Year Legacy
Words Anna James December 26, 2023

Mercedes-Benz, the world’s oldest car manufacturer, has a rich history of reinventing the automobile since 1886. Over the years, the brand has continually set new standards while adapting to social change. Here’s a summary of some key anniversaries and milestones from Mercedes-Benz’s history:

Mercedes-Benz Coupé der Baureihe W 114. Es wird 1968 vorgestellt und bis 1972 produziert. Foto aus dem Jahr 1970. (Fotosignatur der Mercedes-Benz Classic Archive: 1999DIG442)
Mercedes-Benz Coupé from the W 114 model series. It was presented in 1968 and produced until 1972. Photo from 1970. (Photo index number in the Mercedes-Benz Classic Archives: 1999DIG442)

30 September 1913 – 110 years ago Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft opened the luxurious “Mercedes Palace” in Unter den Linden, Berlin. This high-class showroom had space for 15 Mercedes vehicles and introduced a customer-centric marketing concept with a restaurant and cultural events. It became a hub for Berlin’s elite. Benz & Cie. also established its presence in Berlin earlier, with its first agency in 1897 and a sales office in 1901.

1 October 1883 – 140 years ago Carl Benz, along with Max Caspar Rose and Friedrich Wilhelm Esslinger, founded Benz & Co. Rheinische Gasmotoren-Fabrik, a pioneering company that produced stationary two-stroke engines. This success led to the creation of the Benz Patent Motor Car in 1886, the world’s first automobile, powered by a petrol engine.

1 to 11 October 1998 – 25 years ago Mercedes-Benz unveiled the S-Class from the 220 model series at the Paris Motor Show. This luxurious vehicle featured 30 technical innovations, including the optional DISTRONIC proximity control system and the “Cockpit Management and Data System” (COMAND). It retained the generous feeling of spaciousness from its predecessor, with 484,697 units produced by 2005.

4 to 14 October 1928 – 95 years ago Mercedes-Benz presented the Nürburg 460, its first eight-cylinder car, named after extensive testing on the Nürburgring circuit. Designed by Ferdinand Porsche, this model developed 80 hp from a 4.6-liter engine. Porsche’s successor, Hans Nibel, further improved the Nürburg 460, with 2,893 examples produced until 1933.

19 November 1968 – 55 years ago The exclusive “Stroke/eight” Coupé in the upper medium class was introduced, featuring a six-cylinder engine and frameless fully retractable side windows. A total of 67,048 units were produced, based on the W 114 model series, while the corresponding four-cylinder saloons were designated the W 115 model series.

23 December 1953 – 70 years ago The Mercedes-Benz 220 Coupé from the W 187 model series joined the product range, becoming the early forerunner of luxury-class coupés from Mercedes-Benz. It was initially built for Dr. Wilhelm Haspel’s wife and went on sale in December 1953. With a retail price of DM 20,850, it was the most expensive model in the W 187 model series, with 85 examples produced by July 1955.


  • 90 years ago, on 12 November 1933, Bruno Sacco, an Italian born in Udine, began working at Mercedes-Benz as a constructor and designer. He left a lasting impact on the brand’s models, particularly the S-Class Coupé from the 126 model series.
  • 90 years ago, on 13 December 1933, Paul Bracq, born in Bordeaux, significantly influenced Mercedes-Benz car design from 1957 to the end of the 1960s, particularly with models like the SL from the W 113 model series (“Pagoda”) and the 600 (W 100), as well as the “Stroke/eight” models from the W 114/115 model series.

Press Release

Mercedes-Benz, the world’s oldest car manufacturer, has been reinventing the car over and over since 1886. As it does so, the brand continually sets new standards, while also keeping pace with social change. The history of the company is correspondingly rich in events and stories. Here is a brief summary of some of the important anniversaries and milestones from its history.

30 September 1913 – 110 years ago

Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft opened the “Mercedes Palace” in Unter den Linden

  • Car manufacturers increasingly had their own retail outlets
  • These companies had a particularly strong presence in the capital Berlin
  • High-class showroom with space for 15 Mercedes vehicles

Around the turn of the 20th century, automobile manufacturers established representative branch outlets. At the same time, the economic upswing in the German Empire reinforced the trend to have a presence in Berlin. Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft (DMG) opened the luxuriously appointed “Mercedes Palace” on the boulevard Unter den Linden on 30 September 1913. It had space for 15 Mercedes vehicles, showroom windows faced the boulevard. With a restaurant and cultural events, the retail outlet anticipated the marketing concept of the customer experience. The “Mercedes Palace” became a meeting point for Berlin’s highest society. Benz & Cie. opened its first agency in Berlin as early as 1897, and a sales office in 1901.

1 October 1883 – 140 years ago

Foundation of Benz & Co. Rheinische Gasmotoren-Fabrik

  • Pioneering company paving the way to the first automobile
  • The success of stationary two-stroke engines made the Benz Patent Motor Car possible
  • The first automobiles were built in 1886

On 1 October 1883, Carl Benz, together with businessman Max Caspar Rose and commercial agent Friedrich Wilhelm Esslinger, founded Benz & Co. Rheinische Gasmotoren-Fabrik as a general partnership in Mannheim. Stationary “System Benz” two-stroke engines with an output of 0.74 kW (1 hp) to 8.8 kW (12 hp) were successfully produced as an alternative to the steam engine. Brisk demand made it possible for Carl Benz to realise his dream of a lightweight car powered by a petrol engine. 1885 saw the completion of the first vehicle in which the chassis and engine formed a single unit. The patent for the three-wheeled motor car was granted to Carl Benz on 29 January 1886. It was the world’s first automobile.

1 to 11 October 1998 – 25 years ago

Presentation of the Mercedes-Benz S-Class from the 220 model series in Paris

  • Trendsetter in automobile engineering, with 30 technical innovations and 340 patents
  • Generous feeling of spaciousness, agile handling, DISTRONIC and COMAND
  • The S 600 with a new twelve-cylinder engine followed in 1999

The Mercedes-Benz S-Class from the 220 model series presented at the Paris Motor Show from 1 to 11 October 1998 impressed with its agile, unobtrusive lines. Despite reduced external dimensions and lower weight, it offered the same, generous feeling of spaciousness as the preceding 140 model series. AIRMATIC air suspension and the ADS adaptive damping system contributed to the luxury saloon’s easy handling. 340 patents resulted in 30 technical innovations, some of them used for the first time in a production car – e.g. the optional DISTRONIC proximity control system. The new “Cockpit Management and Data System” (COMAND) made it easier to operate the navigation system, car radio, telephone, CD changer and TV receiver. 484,697 units of the S-Class from the 220 model series were produced up to 2005.

4 to 14 October 1928 – 95 years ago

Premiere of the Mercedes-Benz Nürburg 460 in Paris

  • The brand’s first eight-cylinder car as new flagship model
  • It took its name from the test drives conducted on the North Loop of the Nürburgring circuit
  • The first version by Ferdinand Porsche was superseded one year later

Shortly after the opening of the challenging Nürburgring race circuit in June 1927, Mercedes-Benz presented the Nürburg 460 (W 08) in 1928. The brand’s first eight-cylinder car was given its name because it had been extensively tested over 24,000 kilometres on the North Loop. In early June 1928, head of the test department Willy Walb gave the Board of Management a positive assessment of the engine’s performance over this distance on the Nürburgring, which was 28 kilometres long at the time. The Nürburg 460, designed by Ferdinand Porsche, was presented to the public at the Paris Motor Show from 4 to 14 October 1928. Its in-line eight-cylinder engine developed 59 kW (80 hp) from a displacement of 4.6 litres. Porsche’s successor Hans Nibel already revised the powerful and comfortable Nürburg 460 for the 1929 model year. 2,893 examples of this flagship model were built up to 1933.

19 November 1968 – 55 years ago

Premiere of the “Stroke/eight” Coupé at Hockenheim

  • The exclusive coupé in the upper medium class
  • The six-cylinder engine in the 250 CE, the top model premiered, developed 110 kW(150 hp)
  • The frameless side windows were fully retractable

Mercedes-Benz set a highlight with its upper medium-class coupés in 1968. They were based on the saloon models, which were later to be given the nickname “Stroke/eight”, had the same wheelbase and were identical back to the A-pillar. However the windscreen was more inclined and the roof 45 millimetres lower. The frameless side windows in the front and rear were fully retractable. The elegant two-door models were available exclusively with a six-cylinder engine; they were therefore assigned to the W 114 model series like the corresponding saloons. The four-cylinder saloons were designated the W 115 model series. The company presented the Coupé at Hockenheimring on 19 November 1968. A total of 67,048 units were produced.

23 December 1953 – 70 years ago

The Mercedes-Benz 220 Coupé from the W 187 model series joined the product range

  • Exclusive and elegant variant of the model 220
  • Produced “at the repeated insistence of certain prominent individuals”
  • The beginning of the brand’s luxury-class coupé range

A one-off became the early forerunner of the later luxury-class coupés from Mercedes-Benz. It was built in December 1951 on the basis of the new Mercedes-Benz 220 (W 187). Dr Wilhelm Haspel, Chairman of the Board of Management, had the car built for his wife. Series production was not being considered at the time. However, in mid-September 1953, head of development Karl Wilfert presented the finished design drawings for the elegant two-door model. The coupé went on sale as early as December 1953. This was “at the repeated insistence of certain prominent individuals”, according to a circular issued by sales management. The coupé was technically based on the 220 Cabriolet A with two seats and a curved windscreen. It had an improved M 180 engine developing 63 kW (85 hp). With a retail price of DM 20,850, it was the most expensive and exclusive model in the W 187 model series. 85 examples were produced up to July 1955.


  • 90 years ago – Bruno Sacco, 12 November 1933. The Italian born in Udine worked at Mercedes-Benz as a constructor and designer from 1958. As head of the styling department and later as chief designer at Mercedes-Benz, he left his mark on many of the brand’s models until 1999. One of his favourite vehicles was the S-Class Coupé from the 126 model series.
  • 90 years ago – Paul Bracq, 13 December 1933. Born in Bordeaux, Bracq had a decisive influence on Mercedes-Benz car design from 1957 to the end of the 1960s. His name is closely associated with the SL from the W 113 model series (“Pagoda”), as well as with the 600 (W 100) and the “Stroke/eight” models from the W 114/115 model series.