MY FATHER MR. MERCEDES by Guy Jellinek-Mercedes


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Temperamental, a considerable wit and a non-engineer pioneer, Jellinek-Mercedes was the father of automobilisme, a fin de siecle movement that brought about the birth of the modern car. In this loving but objective biography by his son, Mercedes emerges as an immensely likeable if highly self-contained man who abjured sentimentality. His most famous achievement today, sports fans, is the Mercedes-Benz, the ruby of the automotive industry. (A visit to any automobile museum will also reveal the Mercedes as a piece of functional sculpture that transcends its mere aspect as a machine.) Of Czech lineage, Jellinek added the name Mercedes to his name. Contrary to popular opinion, the car was not named after Mercedes' daughter, of that name, but after an engineer who made a superior motor. Mercedes himself knew next to nothing about motors, and--like Napoleon--expected others to attend to the details of his conceptions. He would order a car that would go 46 kmh, and engineers would wail that any car going at such a tremendous speed should be on rails. Mercedes happily drove the car even faster and sent a letter twitting the engineers. When he demanded that the motor be placed forward, where the horses should be, the engineers groaned that a fast car would certainly wobble uncontrollably, wrench, dip, spill, crash...About a third of the text is given over to automobile design and motors, much to races. Mercedes' character is drawn with all the vitals intact, including his vulnerable points, and with the aura that clings to all dedicated enthusiasts.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1966
Publisher: Chilton