Mercedes-Benz turns age 125 with tradition, innovation

James Raia

Mercedes-Benz, now 125 years old, was founded in 1886 with the introduction of Karl Benz's first gas-fueled car, the Benz Patent Motorwagen.

Much has happened since. Headquartered in Stuttgart, Germany, the carmaker now has manufacturing plants around the globe, easing car dealer cost on popular Mercedes Benz models — coupes to sedans, sport utility vehicles to crossovers, roadsters to supercars.

Mercedes-Benz also manufacturers trucks and vans as well as arguably the world's most unique vehicle, the current Popemobile. The new Mercedes-Benz SUV is a modified Mercedes-Benz M-Class.

Twenty-years after the manufacturer first marketed its automobiles, the Mercedes-Benz brand name debuted in 1926.

Mercedes-Benz is now a publicly traded as Daimler AG. In the United States, Daimler AG offers Mercedes-Benz automobiles in a dozen categories all designated with letters. Three of most popular models include:

The entry level C class sedan ($33,990) was introduced in 1994 and the 2011 model is available with either a 228-horsepower, 3.0-liter or a 268-HP, 3.5L V-6 engine. The C class sedan is about 128 inches in length, seats five adults and has 12.4 cubic feet of cargo space. It's available in rear-wheel or all-wheel drive and has gas mileage averages of 17 mpg (city) and 26 (hwy.)

The flagship of the Mercedes-Benz line is the S-Class. The 2011 edition has a variety of engines available, including a top-of-the-line 604-HP, 6-liter, V12, with an optional gasoline/electric hybrid model. Available in rear wheel or all-wheel driver, the 2011 S-Class ($87,950) has 16.3 cubic feet of cargo space, is approximately 207 inches in length and has gas mileage of the 15 mpg (city) and 23 mpg (hwy) and 19 mpg (city) and 26 mpg (hwy) for the hybrid model.

Mercedes-Benz first released the SLK-Series, a two-seat roadster, in 1998. The 2011 SLK has either a 228-HP, 3.0-liter engine or a 300-horsepower, 3.5-liter V6 and is the carmaker's quickest vehicle, capable of the standard 0-60 mph test in 6.1 seconds. With a retractable hardtop, the SLK-Series ($47,650) has gas mileage averages of 19 mpg (city) 25 mpg (hwy).

Since the early days of the company, a model's name followed the same pattern: The engine displacement made up the first three numbers and the last letter or letters represented the type of engine or chassis. But the nomenclature for Mercedes-Benz models was reveres in 1994. The 500E, for example, became the E500.

Article Last Updated: December 1, 2010.

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