The “close-up” of the Mercedes-Benz Museum is self-explanatory. The series takes a close look at Mercedes vehicles that tell a surprising and engrossing backstory. And today’s feature shows us the Daimler motor vehicle, the ancestor of today’s Sprinter van.
Unlike the Mercedes Sprinter we know today, which transported people or cargo while being housed inside a giant sheet of metal, the Daimler 1899 motorized vehicle was different. Introduced shortly after Karl Benz came up with the Benz Patent-Motorwahen, there was nothing to protect passengers and cargo from the outside elements. However, what it did was introduce a number of new things in the automotive space.
Daimler’s motor vehicles used a tubular radiator invented by Wilhelm Maybach. These components allow for better engine cooling and increased performance, allowing the car to transport cargo and people as intended.
Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft (DMG)’s first van was designed to handle payloads of up to 1,102 pounds (500 kilograms). It was powered by a 1.5-liter two-cylinder engine producing 5.6 horsepower (4.1 kilowatts), with a top speed of 9.9 miles per hour (16 kilometers per hour). These expanded in the following year, with payloads from 1,764 to 7,055 lbs (800 to 3,200 kg) and power from 4 hp (2.9 kW) to 8 hp (5.9 kW) with the two-cylinder engine and 6 hp (4 .4 kW) to 12 hp (8.8 kW) with the four-cylinder engine.
Unlike the first Mercedes-Benz trucks in 1896 which used a belt drive system, Daimler’s motor vehicle engines powered the rear wheels via two track wheels and two roller chains.
Even the design has evolved. The first version of the ancestral Sprinter van came with an under-seat engine and a stand-alone steering column. The newer version, shown in the Mercedes Museum, has the engine over the front axle protected by a bonnet. It also used rubber shod wheels, which was a departure from using wooden tires.