The inventor Gottlieb Daimler was born on March 17, 1834 in Schorndorf, Württemburg, and was the son of a master baker. Daimler eventually apprenticed himself to a gunsmith for four years, instead of becoming a public employee as his father wanted him to be. He also attended a technical school as he worked for the gunsmith, worked at a steam engine factory, and finished up school at Stuttgart Polytechnic. Working the next 30 years as an engineer and technical director of engine development for many companies, he worked with Nikolaus August Otto and William Maybach (who became his life-long coworker).
Maybach and Daimler arranged a factory to make a light, high-speed, gasoline-powered internal combustion engine. They planned to make an engine that could be used to power a vehicle. Even though they had some disappointments, Gottlieb’s invention of a dependable “self-firing” ignition method, and Maybach’s invention of a machine related to the carburetor for their smallest gas engine, helped push them ahead of other inventors who were competing against them. In an effort to find a profitable use for his engine, Daimler built it into a boat in 1882. After three years, they fitted their engine to a wooden bicycle (the first motorcycle) and drove it in the roads of Mannheim, Baden.
Their gasoline engine was attached to a four-wheeled vehicle, creating one of the first real automobiles, in 1887. At the Paris Exposition in 1889, the Daimler “company” showed a two-cylinder V-shaped engine, possibly the first engine to use the “V” model. In 1890, Maybach and Daimler created a company called “Daimler Motoren Gesellschaft” (DMG) in Stuttgart, Germany, but they left a year later in order to focus on different technical and commercial development projects. A car powered by Daimler’s engine won the first international car race (the Paris-to-Rouen race in 1894).
Out of the 102 cars that started the race, only 15 made it to the end, and all the finishers were powered by Gottlieb’s engine. The race focused on advertising the Daimler Motor Company and helped to sponsor the idea of motoring in general. The accomplishment of the race may have helped Daimler and Maybach’s decision to rejoin the Daimler Motor Company in 1895.
After a year, the Daimler Company made the first road truck. In 1900, they made the first Mercedes (which was named after the daughter of Daimler’s financier). Unfortunately, Gottlieb did not see the Mercedes, because he died of heart disease on March 6, 1900, in Stuttgart, Germany. Daimler’s auto company combined with the Benz Company in 1926, forming the Mercedes-Benz automobile company.