Five Mercedes-Benz facts
Today, Mercedes-Benz builds some very interesting cars. But you know what's more interesting? The company's history. When you invented the car, you have quite a lot of history.
Here we take a look at five interesting facts about Mercedes-Benz.
Quite a number of "Popemobiles" have been created from Mercedes-Benz vehicles over the years, probably the most famous of which were the brilliantly boxy G Wagen versions used in 1980 and 1987.
At the other end of the spectrum is Adolf Hitler, who was also quite a fan of Mercedes-Benz product. In fact, he liked to drive (or more accurately be driven) around in a 770 model with bulletproof windows.
Sometimes when a racing driver retires from racing, they may end up taking on some advisory or ambassadorial role for the car company they raced for. But Mercedes-Benz went a bit beyond that when, in 1974, the company appointed the legendary Juan Manual Fangio as president of Mercedes-Benz Argentina.
The presidential gig followed on from his remarkable exploits behind the wheel of a Mercedes in his racing career, and his pre-and-post-racing retirement job of selling Mercedes at his dealership. Okay, so the post was honorary, but then he was made President for Life in 1987.
While it is actually surprisingly quiet on this issue, Mercedes-Benz is responsible for a rather extraordinary number of automotive firsts that have gone on to become common (and even necessary) features in modern cars.
The honeycomb radiator, the float carburettor, four-wheel brakes, crumple zones, anti-lock brakes, traction control, brake assist and seat belt pretensioners were all introduced by Mercedes. Not to mention the core elements and layout of what we now call a "car" were all established by Gottlieb Daimler or Karl Benz.
First car stolen
Because Karl Benz is largely accepted as the inventor of the automobile it seems appropriate that he was also the first victim of car theft. Well, sort of.
One day, his wife, Bertha - frustrated by his lack of belief in the marketability of his invention - decided to prove to him its worth, so she took the car without asking Karl, packed up the kids and headed off on what is now a legendary 106km trip from Mannheim to Pforzheim. Oh, and she also invented brake pads along the way: when the brakes started failing, she stopped at a cobbler and had him fit some leather pads on the wooden brakes.
Bertha was boss
While Karl may well have been the technical genius in the family, he wasn't the business brain behind it all. Nope, that was Bertha too.
Bertha invested in Karl's failing iron construction company and kept him afloat before they married and her money continued to finance the development of his "horseless carriage". Under modern law she would probably have owned all the patents on Karl's invention. She took that famous drive as well as selling Benz's first car along the way.
She was the first one to understand the wider implications of Karl's creation. She understood that in order for it to be a success, people had to actually see the cars being driven and contributed a lot towards what Mercedes-Benz and perhaps even the car industry is today.