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Daimler-Benz 1926-1939 — Men and in the Classic Age

Photography by: Ludvigsen Archives

Daimler-Benz 1926-1939

Men and in the Classic Age

by Karl Ludvigsen

from Ludvigsen Library and AG Archives

Despite inevitable in executive suites after merger in 1926, the men of Daimler and advanced the arts of both and racing cars in their company in the years before the World War.

From the of 1924 came the marriage of Benz had been weaker Daimler, but neither was in a particularly position when their boards of directors weighed the of a marital commitment. On June 12, a little over a year the initial pooling of interests, submitted an application to initiate a merger.

On June 28-29, Daimler-Benz AG was created by the conjoining of Cie. and Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft. During two days, the general assemblies of the two approved their marriage.

the Merger

In formal terms, the was accomplished by a stock swap at a of 1:1, with Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft as the absorbing company and changing its to Daimler-Benz AG (DBAG). In terms of law, the new company was domiciled in as Daimler had been before, the operating headquarters was located in not at Benz’s Mannheim home.

the 1924 federation and the 1926 of the two companies were midwifed by the Bank’s Emil Georg von Described as “something of an eccentric the banker foresaw the combine as including BMW and Opel as well, in as a means of securing Germany’s ability to produce aero However, Opel soon into the hands of General while BMW decided to go it alone. Von ally on the Benz side was Jahr, head of the Rheinische and supporter of the Mannheim company.

For DBAG’s management board had membership from the two predecessor and, initially, no designated Soon, however, Benz Wilhelm Kissel assumed role. He faced no small The newly born Daimler-Benz a large, mainly idle, apparatus,” wrote historian Bellon. “Heavily indebted, only a small fraction of its in use, Daimler-Benz faced a tough battle to make its profitable in a nation in which motorization had, up to that hardly taken root.”

the new company was the emblem adorning its which framed Daimler’s star with the laurel of Benz, adding “Mercedes” and As to the firm’s raison d’être, a poster set out this objective: two oldest and largest motor in Germany have joined with the aim of offering customers all the world passenger cars and vehicles in unsurpassed quality and at prices, based on more 40 years of experience in automotive joint purchasing of raw and production and a generously laid-out field

The Porsche Period

Implementation of policy in the merged company was in the of a man who was a stranger to both its component Since 1924, Ferdinand had served on the management boards of Daimler and Benz. In their he encountered senior Benz Hans Nibel, five younger than himself. was described as “fussy, finicky, and attitudes not at all conducive to the kind of and decisive progress that liked to make.

Ferdinand and Max Sailer took an active in racing.

Hans Nibel, an on the Benz Company board the merger, would eventually Porsche as DBAG’s chief

Uneasy and conflicting technical dated from the initial alliance. Porsche continued in of Untertürkheim’s products, while retained that authority at In Untertürkheim, Porsche headed a new Design Office in which design work on all the group’s new was conducted, together with and testing. Although Porsche was the principal spokesman and authority on matters, both he and Nibel members of DBAG’s supervisory

Porsche’s preferred option he joined Daimler in 1923 was to a new 2.5-liter supercharged model to on the success of Paul Daimler’s blown engines. In the board’s however, the more urgent was replacement of a now-antiquated 6-cylinder the 28/95, that dated 1913. With the speed of Porsche, the first prototypes of the new K were ready early in later that year the world was shown the first supercharged production Mercedes-Benz

Three key managers in the early of Mercedes-Benz: Porsche, Sailer, and Nallinger in 1925

At the top of the range, the and flamboyant K, S, SS, and SSK models established as a leading sports-luxury marque. motor car is one of the finest examples of a sports-racing type ever famed auto designer Exner said about the “Large-diameter racing wire together with lifted fenders, give the illusion of a lower silhouette than measurements show. The tremendous of hood bears out the traditional love for the race machine.” the big supercharged sixes continued to vee’d radiators, this was denied to the new ranges of Mannheim, and Nürburg models. Flat marked them as a lesser of Mercedes-Benz automobile.

Stuttgart hp Roadster and the Corbusier House; of Germany’s focus on a high-tech after coming out of World War I

At the popular end of the range, Porsche led the of the new 8/38, a 2.0-liter model. at Berlin in 1926, the 8/38 was into production with speed; 1,425 were before the end of that year, and in 4,788 were produced a new by far for a Mercedes, Benz, or Mercedes-Benz. A pat on the for Porsche came from in December 1926. “In no fewer than nine types have been for the various factories,” said the including trucks as well. the most part they’ve been validated and found to be No particular explanation is needed for the that’s been involved in

As he had at Austro Daimler, Porsche at oversaw the design of many types of vehicles and prime Light and shadow attended his on commercial vehicles. A new range of with capacities of 1.5, and 5.0 tons “unfortunately did not satisfy,” in the of Alfred Neubauer, though were the work of the punctilious at Mannheim and engineers at Gaggenau. complained of poor liaison Gaggenau and his team at Untertürkheim.

The OM5 diesel engine, designed Fritz Nallinger in 1925, be the basis for an entire range of engines for cars, trucks, and by 1935.

A better result from Porsche’s work on engines for trucks. Early in the both Benz and Daimler had such engines, which that at the time they an alliance in 1924, a choice had to be between their differing This choice was Porsche’s

In 1925, he resolved the conflict Untertürkheim and Mannheim in favor of the pre-chamber technology, based on the of diesel pioneer Prosper deputy member of the Benz board from 1911 to It promised simpler and lighter that would be less to produce.

Porsche set up a special at Untertürkheim to create a production based on the Benz concept. To the effort, he handpicked a talented Benz engineer, Fritz the son of a Daimler management-board member. chose a six over a four to greater smoothness and set ambitious for power and speed with the of Bosch and its injectors. The result was the developing 85 brake horsepower at rpm from its 8,572cc. Its commitment to production resulted in a range of of up to 150 brake horsepower and the sales of units by 1935, including and off-road vehicles.

Although by the Treaty of Versailles from large aero engines, produced small power for light planes in the early Offered into the Porsche era was the displacing 884cc in two air-cooled This was supplemented under aegis by the radial 3-cylinder F1, with 1,491cc was rated at 20 horsepower at 2,800 rpm.

air-cooled engines were in aircraft designed by Hanns for an arm of Daimler that produced airplanes from 1919. In Klemm took over the and conducted it with considerable With the revival of aero manufacture in the 1930s, diesel Nallinger would play an role that would him for great things during and the war.

Upheaval in Management

On the passenger-car Porsche initiated work in on a new small car with an engine of 5 horsepower. The first new design of the company, it was given the W01 designation. plans were laid for production of the promising new 1.6-liter W01 six at a of 1,000 cars per month, an of magnitude more than the had ever assayed and a sign of its in Porsche’s design.

However, questioned whether it would be to chase the products and prices of producers like Opel, had more scope to lower its At the eleventh hour, when the banking consortium had to be approached for the of 10 million marks that be needed for production of the W01, balked. Blame was focused on Porsche, whose 8/38 given unalloyed satisfaction.

defended his policy and team. On 15, 1928, he pointed out that in the past his engineering colleagues had 14 new types, not including experimental They were overloaded, he by too many tasks. Two years he’d gone to bat for them in of higher pay for some of his key people, to be turned down by his board. was still being wasted, believed, by maintaining separate and materials-testing operations at Mannheim and

His protestations brushed aside, was shown the door. His former had already identified his successor as other than his Benz Hans Nibel. In the immediate Benz engineers such as man Max Wagner would take The board made the announcement at without extending Porsche the courtesy of waiting until he his future plans.

The Role of

Neubauer, who had joined Daimler after his mentor Porsche, with DBAG. An enthusiast equal, he managed to keep in racing alive, especially in the of managing director Kissel, who the board that he was cutting all support and then quietly the “private” efforts of Rudi and Hans Stuck in 1931 and

In March 1933, Kissel and decided to go back into primarily for its publicity benefits. did so on the first wave of enthusiasm accompanied Adolf Hitler’s to power. After they that the more radical Socialists weren’t actually to take over their industrialists were pleased by banning of labor unions, his of armament production, and the credit-expanding of his economists.

In 1934, the first of the that would become as the Silver Arrows, the W25, was out by the staff for inspection of senior Visible in this picture are Nallinger, in the cockpit; the burly Neubauer, responsible for motorsports behind him; and Hans behind and to the left of the steering

Mercedes Benz classic Daimler

Contact with the Third was maintained by Jakob Werlin, of the important Daimler-Benz branch in the home of the National Socialist Workers (Nazi) Party. personal acquaintance with was pivotal in gaining approval for the Ministry to pay RM 450,000 annually to the of a Grand Prix racing with bonus payments of RM 10,000, and 5,000 for finishes in second, and third place, This was, of course, to go to

The winning team at the August Grand Prix of Switzerland, left, Rudolf Uhlenhaut; Manfred von Brauchitsch, Rudolf and John Richard Beattie company director Max Sailer;s and manager Alfred Neubauer.

But a upstart company with social connections also a claim, backed by a strong pitch by Porsche. Auto wanted its place in the sun, “Each wanted it all for himself,” recalled. Finally, ministry Brandenburg decided, as had King of yore: each firm receive half. It was about of what Daimler-Benz spent on racing. But it was encouragement, and that was they needed.

The last of the high-performance automobiles, the 12-cylinder was intended to challenge world speed records. Here on the new Frankfurt Autobahn with, left, Uhlenhaut, Sailer, an manager, and Neubauer

Broadening the Line

DBAG’s impressive in Grand Prix racing, 1934 through 1939, was to history during years are still seen as a golden They were mirrored by in Mercedes-Benz production cars brought added luster to the company’s new badge. In the vanguard was the new launched at the Berlin show in 1936.

Built on an X-shaped comprising two oval-section tubes by a series of tubular crossmembers, the had all-independent suspension. Its power was as ruggedly simple as a water-cooled could be made, and two-point to give it the smoothness of a six. So was its three-bearing crankshaft that the engine was found to be a satisfactory for the postwar 170D diesel. 60,000 170Vs were before the fall of 1939, a that redounded to the credit of engineer Rudolf Uhlenhaut, who had led its


Speaking of diesels, by September a diesel automobile engine was on its test stand at Untertürkheim. It was a 6-cylinder that was developing an 82 horsepower at 2,800 rpm very revs for a compression-ignition engine at time. When installed in a chassis, though, its vibrations too severe for the frame structure. to exhibit a diesel car at the Berlin of 1934 had to be abandoned.

The 1935-1937 W144 engine and the automobile which was designed it were the creations of Hans Röhr, but died with

The next step was the construction of a engine based on the dimensions of the six. After it was dieted its running smoothed and its range of revs enhanced, it was bedded in a 230 that was normally propelled by a gasoline engine of 55 horsepower. out 45 brake horsepower at 3,000 the diesel replacement gave well-suited to the commercial uses for it was designed. The resulting 260D was the of the Berlin show in February where it was exhibited with a landaulet body. Though would follow quickly, was first to market with a diesel automobile.

Styling of and other Mercedes-Benz models of the featured richly rounded that suggested robustness, with meticulous detailing. were the work of Walter whom Hermann Ahrens from his alma mater at the request of Kissel to oversee the models. In 1932, Ahrens had poached to establish a department for bodies. Also active the war as a body designer was Friedrich

From its early days, had been one of the few European motor with its own body-building facilities. quickly to enhance this in-house capability, DMG began of its Sindelfingen works originally in 1915 to produce aero to car-body manufacture before the War’s armistice.

A visitor to in 1930 was impressed by the plant’s and flexibility. “Here the plain, auto that makes its through line alone,” he “there the racy cabriolet color and shape draw all to it on the sports ground, the beach or the of the highlands. A whole range of is at the ready, enlivening the panorama their manufacturing presented.”

In the the results achieved by Ahrens and his were sensational. We have to think of the amazing range of and … bodies built on 380, 500K, 540K, and 770 in the 1930s to gain a sense of the capabilities of Ahrens and his Sonderbau. wondrous body designs, of the most striking and voluptuous realized, were so spectacular outside coachbuilders had few opportunities to

New engineering teams created the for these flamboyant luxury Only able to enjoy the successes of his W25 Grand Prix Arrow, Nibel died in November 1934. By default, his went to Untertürkheim veteran Max but Emil Georg von Stauss that this wasn’t a enough appointment. He applied to the management to engage Hans Röhr.

Balding and toothbrush-moustached, Röhr had advanced designs, including his own Röhr automobile, but that had folded. Most recently he engineering at Adler, which advanced front-drive cars his aegis. But Röhr was another like Porsche. He lacked academic credentials. At only 40, he was for a Daimler board member.

was expensive, not only for his own salary and rights, but also for the engineering he insisted on bringing with him Adler. Paramount among was Joseph Dauben, a skilled who had long been helping realize his radical concepts. was finally reached, with the team arriving in Untertürkheim on 17, 1935. Compartmentalization of their was accepted, with house Wagner and Nallinger retaining for certain sectors in cooperation Röhr and Dauben.

It was soon that Röhr did not feel to respect the shibboleths of Daimler-Benz Shrugging aside the rear-engined that the ex-Benz team had with Dauben he embarked on a new of front-drive small Mercedes He even dared to suggest for many models, ordinary rear axles could be and better than the sacred axles. Indeed, Röhr it by inviting his colleagues to compare a with an Auburn Speedster at the The American car surprised with its handling.

The ambitious plans of which included V-8 and V-12 suffered a blow when creative engineer, felled by a died prematurely on August 10, His front-drive models died him. Dauben carried on, the hemi-head V-12s that searchlight generators during the

The last important prewar launch from DBAG was the an update of its veteran Grosser Still using a supercharged straight-eight, the W150 was introduced in with a tubular chassis and de rear suspension. On the heels of the 117 the W150 saw 88 delivered into For better or worse, they prized transport for the panjandrums of the Reich. They would DBAG busy for a few years.

The team at the August 1938 Prix of Switzerland, from Rudolf Uhlenhaut; drivers von Brauchitsch, Rudolf Caracciola, and Richard Beattie Seaman; director Max Sailer;s and team Alfred Neubauer.

Mercedes Benz classic Daimler
Mercedes Daimler Benz
Mercedes Benz classic Daimler
Mercedes Benz classic Daimler
Mercedes Daimler Benz
Mercedes Benz classic Daimler

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