While other makes were building crude machines that were barely faster than a running man, Mercedes was manufacturing magnificent high-speed vehicles like the 60HP.
Before the new generation of Mercedes was unveiled in 1901, cars had come in a bewildering plethora of configurations-many of them related to the horse-drawn coach. In 1886, Gottlieb Daimler built the world's first four-wheeled car by adapting such an item. In 1898-99, Daimler and his colleague Wilhelm Maybach, also built a racing machine-the 28hp Canstatt-Daimlerthat was typically short and top-heavy. One was bought by Emile Jellinek, an Austro-Hungarian diplomat and entrepreneur.
Although he found its dynamics decidedly wanting, he told the Daimler partners if they came up with a design for both racing and touring, he'd buy three dozen. In exchange for exclusive rights, he'd also sell more under his Mercedes brand (after Mercedes Jellinek, his 11-year-old daughter.) Gottlieb Daimler died in 1900, but Maybach suggested a car already envisaged with Paul Daimler, Gottlieb's eldest son. The Mercedes 35hp was truly revolutionary in its packaging.
Cradled by a pressed-steel chassis frame, occupants sat behind a four-cylinder engine. Its lowered center of gravity vastly improved driveability and roadholding, and in 1903, two years after the first model had been shown, the closely related Mercedes 60hp sat at the top of the range. No matter what form of magnificent coachwork it carried, the car was by some measure the most advanced vehicle on the market, and immediately inspired imitators.