Mercedes-Benz in the USA

Aug 25, 2005
Stuttgart
Almost 120 years have passed since – independently of one another – Karl Benz and Gottlieb Daimler invented the automobile. It was an amazing technological beast that conquered the world like no other before or since and sparked in America a fascination as old as the invention itself. And no wonder. For the car touched just about every basic human interest – and first among them, that of individual mobility. For individual mobility was the key to personal freedom, since the earliest days of the United States an issue of fundamental importance to Americans. Add to that the distances between the country’s major cities and one soon begins to understand why the car has always occupied a very special place in the affections of Americans.
This fact was also reflected in the activities of the Mercedes-Benz brand. It had a presence in many different areas of American life and continued to do so for decades. First and foremost, of course, there were the products themselves. From the very earliest days of motoring, vehicles were imported from Germany – even today this remains the fundamental pillar of all business activities. Yet local production was initiated as early as 1905, when the Daimler Manufacturing Com-pany in New York began manufacturing exact replicas of the 45 hp Mercedes as produced in Cannstatt – the so called “American Mercedes”. Although production ceased a few years later, the “ American Mercedes” was of huge importance to the company’s brand presence in the United States.
Later cornerstones for Mercedes-Benz success in the United States were not laid until after the Second World War, when the whole adventure really took off with the serial production of a very special car in 1954: the 300 SL coupe. The “ Gullwing” was built at the insistence of American Mercedes-Benz importer Maximilian Hoffman, and almost the entire series of 1,400 units was exported to America. From that moment on, one thing led to another. The brand put down further roots and in 1965 the import company Mercedes-Benz of North America was established, the first company-owned sales organization outside Germany. Then followed many fruitful years of vehicle imports, with at regular intervals models built especially for the United States market – the 300 CD coupe, the 300 SD S-Class or the 560 SL roadster to name but three.
In order to pick up on influential trends coming out of America and to incorporate these into vehicle design, in 1990 the company set up the studio Mercedes-Benz Advanced Design of North America. Although all design studios worldwide worked in collaboration, the M-Class can be considered tangible proof of the work carried out at this location. The model was launched in 1997 and to a considerable extent embodied the requirements of American car buyers. Moreover, it was produced at a new plant built at Tuscaloosa/AL.
Wherever a brand enjoys such a lengthy market presence, a well-established classic car scene inevitably follows. This was no different in the case of Mercedes-Benz, a brand which had won a large and admiring public in the USA. So it is only logical to want to provide expert local support for classic fans in their own country, and a Mercedes-Benz Classic Center about to open. Forming a bridge between present and past, the Mercedes-Benz Classic Center USA will offer a specialized service for customers of classic Mercedes-Benz vehicles including a range of parts and literature, as well as the expert maintenance and restoration of prized Mercedes-Benz vehicles.
The racing team in the Carrera Panamericana Mexico, 1952. (From left): Hermann Lang, Erwin Grupp, Hans Klenk and Karl Kling standing next to the Mercedes-Benz 300 SL coupe (W 194) and John Fitch and Eugen Geiger alongside the 300 SL roadster (W 194).
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Open-air motoring pleasure: The Mercedes-Benz 300 SL roadster was produced from 1957.
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Production line: The M-Class has been produced in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, since 1997.
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Successful model: Virtually all of the Mercedes-Benz 300 SL coupes (W 198) ever produced were sold in the USA.
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Presentation: At the International Motor Sports Show in New York (February 6 – 14, 1954) the Mercedes-Benz 190 SL and 300 SL sports cars were displayed for the first time.
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Small and light: The Mercedes-Benz 190 SL (W 121 series, 1955-1963) was initiated by the American importer Maximilian Hoffman.
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Powerpack: The engine compartment of the record-setting "Blitzen-Benz".
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Open and closed: Mercedes-Benz 300 SL roadster, model year 1958, with coupe roof.
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A new beginning: The American military government granted permission for the start of production of the pre-war Mercedes-Benz 170 V at the Sindelfingen plant.
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Diesel for America: The Mercedes-Benz 300 SD Turbodiesel (1977) was exclusively built for export to the USA and Canada.
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Record attempts in Indianapolis on May 29, 1911: Barney Oldfield at the wheel of the "Blitzen-Benz".
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Advertising poster from the year 1956: Daimler-Benz AG exported vehicles to 127 countries through a network of 183 general distributors and 1200 dealers.
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Winners: Karl Kling and Hans Klenk (hidden) won the third Carrera Panamericana Mexico in 1952 driving a Mercedes-Benz 300 SL (W 194).
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Mercedes-Benz of North America: The headquarters in Montvale, New Jersey, were built in 1972.
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Exclusive: The diesel-engined Mercedes-Benz 300 CD coupes from the 123 series were exclusively available in North America.
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A new beginning: The American military government granted permission for the start of production of the pre-war Mercedes-Benz 170 V at the Sindelfingen plant.
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Mercedes-Benz of North America: The headquarters in Montvale, New Jersey, were built in 1972.
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Elegance on four wheels: Mercedes-Benz 300 CD Turbodiesel coupe powered by a thrifty engine.
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Mercedes-Benz of North America: The headquarters in Montvale, New Jersey, were built in 1972.
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Economical: Deliveries of the diesel-engined Mercedes-Benz 220 D to the USA began in 1971.
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Powerful roadster: The Mercedes-Benz 560 SL (1985 - 1989) was manufactured for export to the USA.
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In grand style: The Mercedes-Benz 300 SD Turbodiesel (1980 - 1985) was a model for export to North America.
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Small and light: The Mercedes-Benz 190 SL roadster was designed in response to the express wish of American importer Maxi Hoffman for his customers.
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Export model for the USA: Mercedes-Benz 350 SD Turbodiesel (1990 - 1991).
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Export model for the USA: Mercedes-Benz 350 SD Turbodiesel (1990 - 1991).
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Long-wheelbase version: The Mercedes-Benz 300 SDL (1985 - 1987) had an economical engine and offered plenty of space.
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Very popular: The twelve-cylinder-engined Mercedes-Benz S 600 from the W 140 series was a success in the USA.
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Economical: A diesel-engined version, the Mercedes-Benz 300 SD, was also available from the W 140 S-Class series.
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Fame at last: The Mercedes-Benz G had already been around for many years when the G 500 with V8 engine became a great sales success in America.
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Fame at last: The Mercedes-Benz G had already been around for many years when the G 500 with V8 engine became a great sales success in America.
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Vision GST: The Grand Sport Tourer was first presented at the Detroit Motor Show in January 2002.
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Separate exit: A sign points the way to the Mercedes-Benz plant in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
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Fame at last: The Mercedes-Benz G had already been around for many years when the G 500 with V8 engine became a great sales success in America.
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Fame at last: The Mercedes-Benz G had already been around for many years when the G 500 with V8 engine became a great sales success in America.
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Fame at last: The Mercedes-Benz G had already been around for many years when the G 500 with V8 engine became a great sales success in America.
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Number Two: The Mercedes-Benz GST 2, presented in Detroit in January 2004, already bore greater resemblance to the production version.
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Number Two: The Mercedes-Benz GST 2, presented in Detroit in January 2004, already bore greater resemblance to the production version.
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Fame at last: The Mercedes-Benz G had already been around for many years when the G 500 with V8 engine became a great sales success in America.
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Vision GST: The Grand Sport Tourer was first presented at the Detroit Motor Show in January 2002.
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Number Two: The Mercedes-Benz GST 2, presented in Detroit in January 2004, already bore greater resemblance to the production version.
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