You are now entering the Jewish Currents archive.

December 22: The First Modern Car

December 22, 2014

761045_1387620_2480_3344_2005DIG820Emil Jellinek, an entrepreneur, diplomat, car dealer, and racing-car driver who ordered the construction of the first modern car engine, the Daimler-Mercedes — which he named for his daughter, Mercedes Jellinek (the name means “gifts” or “favors” in Spanish) — took delivery of the first one on this date in 1900. He sold the car to Baron Henry of Rothschild, another racer, and became the company’s exclusive dealer in America and much of Europe. Jellinek used the car the following year to handily win all the competitions at the Nice races on the French Riviera, where the car reached a speed of 37 mph. His success caused the car’s manufacturer, Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft, to prosper and to use the Mercedes name for all of its cars, while Jellinek changed his own name to Jellinek-Mercedes. He was the son of a prominent rabbi and rebbetzin in Leipzig, Germany. He died at 64 in 1918. To read his whole story, click here.

“If I can’t get any more out of an automobile than out of a horse and carriage, then I might as well travel by horse again!” —Emil Jellinek