State of the art: taxis from the house of Daimler.
In the beginning was the motorized cab.
Get in and tell the driver where to go. In the taxi trade this is self-explanatory. In this industry, cars from the house of Daimler are just as commonplace. At the very beginning of this development there is the motorized cab. In 1896, the Stuttgart carriage entrepreneur Friedrich August Greiner orders a Daimler Victoria motorized cab as a landaulet with a taxi meter from the Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft, which is delivered to him in May 1897. This first motorized cab in the world quickly goes into operation in June of the same year and offers what for the time are true innovations. Because in cooler weather, the back of the Daimler Landaulet taxi can even be heated, and in good weather it is possible to take off the movable body parts such as the roof, doors and windshield wiper.
Electrically powered: the “Mercedes Electrique”.
Electric motors come to be used in cabs at an early stage. In the “Mercedes Electrique” they are fed from a battery. These vehicles soon bring great advantages for the taxi trade: they don’t smell and are less noisy than the petrol-powered cabs – which is a very pleasant aspect for the passengers of the day. Their operating safety proves to be significantly better compared with the early petrol models. They can be started quickly and their upkeep is relatively cost efficient. The disadvantages of the relatively small range of about 90 kilometres and the moderate speed of about 30 kilometres per hour do not have a serious effect in city traffic, not least because the top speed allowed by the public authorities is limited to 15 kilometres per hour.
However, in the first two decades of the last century, the technology of pure electric vehicles is simply not yet mature enough to compete successfully with petrol-driven cars that are becoming increasingly more reliable.
Robust: the Berlin Cab.
In 1908 the Benz & Cie. company inaugurates its new factory in Mannheim and successively relocates automobile production to the new factory. In the same year, the company brings a small, reasonably priced automobile onto the market: the 10/18 hp model. The first car goes to Prince Waldemar, a nephew of the German Kaiser Wilhelm II. In this early stage, Benz & Cie. already place great value on maintaining close contacts with the guild of carriage and rental motorcar entrepreneurs who need an economical and robust automobile for their business. What’s more, Benz already offers the possibility of instalment payments as well. Thus, it is no surprise that from 1909 the robust and resilient 10/18 hp motor car with the special “Berlin Cab” body naturally comes to enjoy great popularity, especially in Berlin, and is therefore widely used.
A car of the world: the model 8 / 38 hp.
Daimler-Benz AG, which is created in 1926 through the merger of the Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft with Benz & Cie., presents the new model 8/38 hp in the same year as part of the merger. It is launched onto the market in early 1927. Thanks to the quality that is also offered by the new brand and most of all the good price, this design soon finds its way on to the road as a taxicab. That is how the small two-litre engine, which is continuously enhanced, becomes the backbone of Daimler-Benz in the taxi business until 1933. Also primarily because its landaulet body satisfies the needs of taxi drivers and taxi customers in the best possible way. The “Stuttgart 200” model, which is fundamentally redesigned in 1928 from the 8/38 hp by the new head designer, Hans Nibel, gets its name from the fact that it is built only in Stuttgart and is equipped with a two-litre engine.
Economical sensation: the Mercedes-Benz 260 D.
In 1936 a sensation appears at the Berlin Automobile Exhibition: the Mercedes-Benz 260 D. The robust and economical Mercedes-Benz diesel is the world’s first serially produced diesel car and soon becomes the taxi driver’s favourite. No wonder, as in 1935 diesel is only half as expensive as ordinary fuel, being sold for only 17 pennies. In addition, the economical operating conditions, above-average economic life of the engines and the robust bodies balance out the higher purchase costs by far. These cars are therefore a familiar sight at taxi stands way into the 1950s.
A star: the Mercedes-Benz 170 V model.
The Berlin Automobile Exhibition in 1936 is also witness to another new product: the 170 V model. The “V” stands for the engine being mounted in the front – in contrast to the simultaneously launched 170 H, which comes with the same four-cylinder in-line engine mounted in the back. With the taxi equipment for the model, good terms and short delivery times, Daimler-Benz is optimally prepared to accommodate the hoped-for rush in demand for the Mercedes cab from the trade. And the model does not disappoint. The 170 V quickly becomes the preferred vehicle in the industry and a favourite of the public. It rises to become the most frequently built Mercedes-Benz passenger car and the production star of the pre-war period, in addition to also enjoying success abroad.
Iconic: the “Ponton” Mercedes.
In August 1953, Mercedes-Benz presents the 180 model of the 120 series. The saloon with the modern “three-box design” is the first Mercedes-Benz passenger car with a self-supporting body in Ponton form. Its design is characterized by fully integrated bumpers, a rectangular body plan and vehicle areas, namely the front, passenger section and rear, which are designed in the approximate shape of cuboids. This design concept lowers the air resistance and provides a much more spacious interior. The Ponton Mercedes is an icon to the present day. In the nine years of the Ponton era, up to October 1962, Mercedes-Benz builds a total of 442,963 units of the 180 to 190 D models.
Unique personality: the “Fintail” model.
In August 1961, a striking new body shape also conquers the upper medium class. With its short rear fins - parking aids which mark the end of the car to aid in backing up - its design is reminiscent of the fintail motif of American car designs. With the “Fintail” models of the 110 series, Mercedes-Benz brings a mature diesel product with state-of-the-art technology onto the market for the taxi trade.
And what is good for the passengers also has the hearts of taxi drivers beating faster: four large, wide-opening doors, a lot of room in the interior, comfortable seats, attractive upholstery and a large, spacious luggage compartment are just a few of the attractions of the car for the mobility trade. Production of the last continuously developed “Fintail” models stops in February 1968 after the market launch of the completely new models of the “Stroke 8” series in January of that year.
A legend: the “Stroke 8”.
They are legends: the Mercedes-Benz models in the 115 and 114 series. They are a clear departure from the “fintail” era with its uniform body design. The abbreviation “/8” in the in-house model designation initially only indicates the year of presentation – 1968. Later this becomes the affectionate “Stroke 8” nickname for the entire model series. The Mercedes-Benz with the highest known mileage is a Greek model 240 D taxi built in 1976. Its owner covers a total of 4.6 million kilometres in it. Examples such as this world-record taxi give the “Stroke 8” a reputation as an indestructible and reliable workhorse. In January 1976 Mercedes-Benz presents the 123 series as the successor to the “Stroke 8”. Nonetheless, production of the 115/114 series continues until December 1976. One reason is the great demand for the “Stroke 8”. All in all, almost two million examples of both model series are produced between 1968 and 1976.