Karl Benz is considered to be the founder of the automobile and he certainly created the first petrol-powered car, a three-wheeler named the Benz Patent Motorwagen, in 1886. The brand he created has gone on to become a global powerhouse and is often considered the last word in luxury among the mainstream manufacturers.
Benz joined forces with Gottlieb Daimler in 1926 when both companies ran into financial trouble, and the two started to build a powerful car company. The Second World War proved a major inconvenience, but after the company stopped making military hardware for the Nazis it got on with producing some of the world's finest automobiles.
Indeed the 1950s was a golden age for Mercedes, as it produced the 300 SL Gullwing that is still celebrated to this day and is often quoted as one of the world's most beautiful cars. It won the Mille Miglia in the hands of Briton Sir Stirling Moss and Mercedes-Benz continued to build on this success. In the 60s the Mercedes 600, the predecessor to the all-conquering S Class, hit the road.
There are other great models, including the Cosworth-engined 190 2.5 and, more recently, the SLS and SLR. Its Maybach brand was also a star before its closure in 2013. But Mercedes-Benz is best known for its S-Class limousine that redefined luxury and has been a test bed for new technology since its inception in 1965.
Now Mercedes-Benz is a watchword for luxury, reliability and refinement and is a designer label in its own right. That means fans fight for older models, just to own a car with the legendary three-pointed star on the bonnet. There is also a healthy owners' scene, with clubs, magazines and events dedicated to the brand.