Mercedes Model 50 photo

1911 Mercedes Model 50

An engineer named Gottlieb Wilhelm Daimler was one of the early pioneers of internal-combustion engines and automobile development and the inventor of the high-speed liquid petroleum-fueled engine. Assisted by his lifelong business partner, Wilhelm Maybach, the duo established Daimler Motoren Gesellschaft (DMG, in English—Daimler Motors Corporation) in 1890, and sold their first automobile in 1892. Daimler passed away in 1900 and Maybach quit DMG in 1907.

Emil Jellinek, known after 1903 as Emil Jellinek-Mercedes, was a wealthy Leipzig-born businessman and an admirer of the cars of Gottlieb Daimler. He won the touring car class at the La Turbie hill climb in 1899 while driving one of Daimler's cars. Jellinek became involved with the company, selling Daimlers to wealthy enthusiasts on the French Riviera. At the 1900 La Turbie hill climb, driver Wilhelm Bauer died while driving a Daimler. Convinced the crash had been caused by the top-heavy design of the Daimler, Jellinek demand that designs be improved with a lower center of gravity, and safety should be paramount. To this end, he commissioned a fleet of cars equipped with these design improvements, paying up front for 36 cars at a total cost of 550,000 gold marks. It was called the 35hp model and came equipped with a 5.9-liter engine and had been designed by Maybach. The design moved away from the previous 'horseless carriage' era and into that of the 'modern motor car'. Advanced features included a pressed-steel chassis, 'honeycomb' radiator, atomizing carburetor, aluminum cylinder block, and gate-change gearbox.

Finished in pure white, the Maybach-designed automobile made its debut at the Nice Speed Week on March 25th of 1901. The car, owned by Baron Henri de Rothschild and driven by Wilhelm Werner, was entered by Jellinek under the pseudonym 'Mercedes', his daughter's name. Panhard-Levassor owned the sales rights to Daimler cars in France, thus the motivation for the new name. The car was driven by Werner to victory in the Nice-Salon-Nice race where he averaged 32 mph. Two days later he achieved a maximum speed of 53.5 mph along the Promenade des Anglais.

Many manufacturers began mimicking the design on the 'Mercedes,' a name that Daimler adopted for its passenger cars in 1902. Various engine displacement sizes and power outputs were offered under the 'Mercedes' name, including the popular Mercedes-Simplex. In the uncertain, evolving, and the ever-changing era of the early 1900s, the company explored all types of configurations and technologies, utilizing side valve, overhead-valve, sleeve-valve, and IOE engines, and with either chain or shaft final drive.

After Wilhelm Maybach departed Mercedes in 1907, the company turned its priority's and attention away from motorsports and solely focused on its range of road-going cars. By this point in history, Mercedes had become popular with royal households and celebrities, and the United States had become the company's most important export market. The product line included a range of shaft-driven touring cars that was the work of Paul Daimler, Maybach's successor, who had returned to the company from Austro-Daimler.

Although Mercedes had withdrawn from active participation in motor sports, privateers continued to campaign Mercedes products with major successes, including a 1-2-3 victory by three Mercedes 16/50hp cars in the 2,000-mile Tsar Nicholas St Petersburg-Moscow-St Petersburg Trial of 1910.

The 1911 Benz catalog included a 50hp special-order model that employed an engine a dual T-head design with the cylinders cast in pairs, a single Bosch magneto, and two camshafts, with one on the exhaust side and the other on the induction side. Lubrication is managed by a Friedmann lubricator, with external oil pipes to all engine bearings and various points on the chassis. It had a bore of 125mm and a stroke of 150mm, which was the same size as the 60hp model but with a Stromberg carburetor instead of the Zenith found in the 60hp. The engine is backed by a four-speed gearbox with a scroll clutch that sends power by a shaft to the rear axle. Stopping is handled by rear wheel brakes operated by a hand lever along with a transmission brake operated by the brake pedal. The wheelbase measured 127 inches and coachwork was provided by a variety of skilled craftsmen and coachbuilders of the era.

by Daniel Vaughan | May 2020
Vehicle Profiles
1911 Mercedes Model 50 vehicle information

Coachwork: Maythorne & Sons

Gottlieb Daimler was the first man to harness, with any degree of success, a combustion engine into a road vehicle. Daimler's first four-wheeled motor driven carriage was built in 1866, and by 1890, demands for Daimler's engine made expansion necessa....[continue reading]

1911 Mercedes Model 50 vehicle information

Toy Tonneau
Coachwork: Demarest and Company

Chassis Num: 7754
Engine Num: 7754

The Benz 50 HP was an incredibly expensive car in its day, costing nearly $8,500 at a time when a new Ford Model T could be purchased for under $700. This example has a 6.75-liter, 4-cylinder engine with a toy tonneau-style body and was originally or....[continue reading]

Tourer by Maythorne & Sons
Toy Tonneau by Demarest and Company
Chassis #: 7754 

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Performance and Specification Comparison

Industry Production

1916Ford (734,811)Willys Knight (140,111)Buick (124,834)
1915Ford (501,492)Willys Knight (91,904)Dodge (45,000)
1914Ford (308,162)Overland (48,461)Studebaker (35,374)
1913Ford (168,220)Overland (37,422)Studebaker (31,994)
1912Ford (78,440)Overland (28,572)Buick (19,812)
1911Ford (69,762)Overland (18,745)Maxwell (16,000)
1910Ford (32,053)Buick (30,525)Overland (15,598)
1909Ford (17,771)Buick (14,606)Maxwell (9,460)
1908Ford (10,202)Buick (8,820)Studebaker (8,132)
1907Ford (14,887)Buick (4,641)Maxwell (3,785)
1906Ford (8,729)Rambler (2,765)REO (2,458)

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