The History Of The Iconic Mercedes-Benz Symbol

  • Karl Benz created the first “motor car”
  • The Mercedes-Benz emblem roots date back to the 1800s
  • The first Mercedes was a racing car

This is the story of a star.

In 1879 Karl Benz patented the very first two-stroke engine. Founding Benz & Cie in 1883, it was in 1886 Benz married his engine with a lightweight, three-wheeled chassis and the “Motorwagen” was born. This vehicle is credited with being the first “motor car” of the modern automobile era. Karl Benz was the first person ever to obtain a driver’s license.

In 1909 the company, under DMG (Daimler Motoren Geshellschaft) leadership, the universally recognizable and most distinguished three pronged star was hatched. Gottleib Daimler, who passed away in 1900, had used a three pronged star to pinpoint his town of Deutz on a postcard, hoping the star would shine over his home and factory, bringing success and promise with his ongoing industrial development.

As Daimler AG progressed, the company’s vision of supplying engines for not only land vehicles, but for sea and air craft as well, came to be represented by each prong of the star. Additionally, the three points represented the past, present and future. Later in 1926, when Daimler and Benz merged, the ends of the three points were encircled, creating the emblem used by the company through our present day. The newly combined companies agreed this symbol and the name Mercedes-Benz would be used to brand all their factories.

Digging deeper, what else does this iconic star represent? We have all heard the expression “it drives straight as an arrow.” Well, if you think about the parts of an arrow, the three “wings” on the shaft, known as the fletching, are all you would see if the arrow is coming straight at you.

It’s been suggested the Mercedes-Benz emblem symbolizes the structural integrity and (arrow) straightness of its cars.

The “Mercedes” part of this world-renowned moniker also has an interesting story. In 1900 Emil Jellinek, a European automotive business entrepreneur, partnered with DMG, with whom he designed the first Mercedes. Jellinek had strict specifications for the cars, including horsepower and a lower center of gravity, improving both the speed and safety of the car, which he later raced. Jellinek had a daughter named “Mercedes,” a Spanish Christian name meaning “mercy,” and used his 11 year old daughter’s name as the name for his DMG produced race cars. This name which now alone is universally recognized, was trademarked in 1902. Ironically, Mercedes the daughter, never owned a car and sadly lived to be only 40 years old.

My new book, Drop, Throttle, Oversteer: Collecting & Investing in Classic Cars, is available at Amazon! 10% of the net sales go to Kids Center for Pediatric Therapies, a wonderful organization we are thrilled to support. If you’ve read and loved the book, please consider leaving an honest review. Reviews are the #1 way other enthusiasts find the book.

Jason Paynter is a classic car appraiser, collector and unabashed enthusiast. He lives in Louisville, KY with his beautiful wife and three sons who are (heaven help him) almost all of driving age. If you have questions for Jason, or need appraisal services, please contact him, jason@gdherring.com.

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