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Baden-Württemberg’s auto pioneers

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Mechanical engineer Gottlieb Daimler left formal employment in 1880, and started tinkering in his Bad Cannstatt workshop in 1882. His quest to produce a light, fast, internal combustion engine was done so secretively that police raided his workshop for money-counterfeiting on the tip-off of a gardener. In 1883, his single-cylinder four-stroke shattered the repose of Kurhaus spa-goers and by 1885 his patented 264cc “Grandfather Clock” powered a motorbike. A year later the world’s first motorboat, the Neckar, chugged upriver and his motorized carriage terrorized horses. Daimler moved to a factory on Seelberg in July 1887.

Meanwhile, unaware of the goings-on in Daimler’s shed, Karl Benz in Mannheim was blazing his own motor trail to found Benz & Cie in 1883, the same year as Daimler. The world’s two oldest motor manufacturers eventually united in June 1926 as Daimler-Benz long after Daimler had died and Benz retired. The Mercedes name was introduced in 1902 to honour the daughter of early Austrian dealer Emil Jellinek.

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