The First Ever 'Mercedes' Is Up For Auction — What Makes It So Special?

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The name Mercedes is one that is instantly recognisable for any person who knows even a little bit about cars. Utter the word Mercedes, and it evokes thoughts of luxury, grandeur, and everything else associated with 'good life'. 

Now, one of the very first models from Daimler to bear the Mercedes name, the Simplex, is set to go under the hammer at the Bonhams Quail Lodge auction on August 19.

The first ever Daimler cars to bear the name 'Mercedes' were the cars raced and sold by Austrian businessman Emil Jellinek in the French riviera. Due to issues regarding the Daimler-Mercury engine in France, Jellinek marketed the cars under a different name, his daughter's name, Mercedes. 

Also Read: How Did These Famous Car Brands Get Their Names

The first car to bear the Mercedes name was sold in 1901 and a year later, Wilhelm Maybach made significant changes to the engine which cut down the weight, improved cooling, and delivered more power.

The car was renamed the Mercedes Simplex and went on to achieve great success, bringing renewed visibility to the company, quite simply because there wasn't anything that could touch the new car.

The Mercedes Simplex used a 5,315cc T-Head 4-Cylinder Engine with a single carburetor to push out 31.5bhp at 1,200rpm. The power was sent to the rear wheels by a 4-speed manual gearbox through a chain drive system.

The Simplex was blisteringly fast for its time as it could hit a top speed of 105km/h in 1904. It used leaf springs suspension along with a live rear axle, and only had the help of drum brakes on the rear wheels to help it come to a halt.

The Simplex up for auction is a 1904 car that like any car that has been around for 112 years, has been through quite a few owners in its lifetime.

The Simplex was originally delivered to a wealthy English timber merchant, Mr. Richard Bayly of Plymouth and was given the registration number T-136 the local Devon County Council, making it the 136th car to be registered in the county. 

In 1908, Bayly donated the car to the British War Department. The car saw action in World War I, serving its British owners against its German creators on the Western Front. After the war, the car was sold to a farmer, and it stayed on the farm until the 1970s.

A chance conversation between another farmer and a vintage car enthusiast, saw the car getting discovered  and it was sold on to a person by the name of Oliver Gray, who set about restoring the car. The restored Simplex was first fired up in 1983 and for the next 16 years, it participated in numerous vintage car rallies. In 1999, the car was put up for auction and was acquired by the Corner Family.

The car changed hands once again in the following year, and the current owner treated the car to a mechanical refresh, adding new pistons to the engines, while the brakes were refurbished as well. The owner also gave the Simplex its current Royal Blue paint job along with red leather seating. 

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Story first published: Friday, August 12, 2016, 10:32 [IST]
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