1886 Benz 3-Wheel Patent Motor Wagon on the 18th green of Pebble Beach Golf Links. Copyright © 2010 Ron Kimball Studios/Courtesy of Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.

Mercedes-Benz 125th Anniversary

Carl Benz’ patent of the first gas-powered vehicle, a three-wheeler, in January 1886 is often considered to mark the birth of the automobile. A few months later, Gottlieb Daimler followed with a four-wheeled vehicle, igniting the competition to create cars with more speed and style.

To celebrate the automobile’s 125th birthday, the 2011 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance will showcase the marques that trace their lineage to Benz and Daimler—particularly Mercedes-Benz. This tribute will chronicle early racing greats, coachbuilt classics, and preservation cars.

“From the beginning of the automobile to the modern industry of today, Mercedes-Benz has always been at the apex of automotive technology and style,” said Sandra Button, Concours Chairman. “This year, the Concours will exhibit some of the earliest vehicles the marque has ever produced, including the White Knights that first established Mercedes and Benz as a racing powerhouse.”

Several White Knights will be prominently lined up along the edge of Carmel Bay, including a “Blitzen-Benz,” the model that set the world record for fastest speed on land (141 mph) in 1911. Its rear wheels are turned by chains, much like a bicycle. The Knights, painted white, Germany’s national auto racing color, earned the company its lofty reputation on the track long before the “Silver Arrow” racers made their debut in 1934.

The anniversary tribute will also include a Preservation Class devoted solely to the successors of Benz. “This special class will feature a remarkable display of Benz, Mercedes and Mercedes-Benz vehicles from around the globe,” said Button. “These unrestored entries exemplify the marque‘s long history and contribution to the world of automobiles.”

The tribute will also feature an array of Mercedes-Benz 380K through 770s, the vehicles often cited as the pinnacle of beauty and technology in the classic era. “These are the Mercedes that have so often won the top award at the Concours,” said Button. “These cars set the standard for supercharged powerhouses, and they bore sophisticated coachwork that demonstrated beauty while underscoring that power.”