Gottlieb Daimler was born in 1834 in Schorndorf. He was first trained as a gunsmith, then studied at the Polytechnic School in Stuttgart (gaining technical experience in France and England) where he learned the skills necessary to start working as a draftsman in Geislingen in 1862.
His appointment as workshop inspector in a machine tool factory in Reutlingen would lead to a meeting in 1865 that would prove pivotal in the course of his life - this was where he first met Wilhelm Maybach.
Becoming technical director of the gas engine manufacturer Deutz Gasmotorenfabrik in 1872, allowed Daimler to learn more about Otto’s four-stroke technology. Differences with the managing director caused him to leave the company in 1882 and set up his own workshop (in his greenhouse) where he could concentrate on the development of petrol-driven four-stroke engines. His vision was for all vehicles - on land, sea or air.
It was in this converted greenhouse at the Cannstatt Villa that Daimler and Maybach’s working relationship flourished and history was subsequently made.
In 1884 they developed an internal combustion engine known as the ‘Grandfather Clock’ – a hugely important invention milestone in the history of automobile production. Unfortunately, the cost of trialling these engines would heavily deplete Daimler’s fortune and he was soon looking for business partners to invest.
In November 1890 he founded ‘Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft’ with Max Duttenhofer and Wilhelm Lorenz. It was far from harmonious; Duttenhofer wanted to concentrate on stationary engines, while Daimler wanted to advance vehicle production. Maybach resigned in 1891 - unhappy with his contract and strained relations meant that Daimler was later excluded as a shareholder by Duttenhofer and Lorenz.
But somehow the company survived. Daimler had secretly continued to build engines with Maybach and eventually commercial pressures on DMG brought them both back to the company in 1895. Daimler became the Director General of the Supervisory Board - but this satisfying development was relatively short-lived and Daimler died of heart disease in March 1900.
Born in 1846 in Heilbronn, Wilhelm Maybach was the son of a master joiner. Orphaned at 10 years old, he was adopted into the Reutlinger Bruderhaus and it is during his education here that he first meets Gottlieb Daimler, when working in the machine shop in 1864. Their close relationship leads to significant advances in automobile technology and lasts until Daimler’s death in 1900.
In October 1882 Maybach joined a newly independent Daimler at the converted greenhouse in Cannstatt and it was here that they worked together to create a lightweight, high-speed combustion engine. An essential technology was discovered through Maybach’s research – an Englishman named Watson had already patented an unregulated hot-tube ignition system and it was this engine, based on Otto’s four-stroke principle, that Daimler would later patent.
By the end of 1883 this test engine was in progress, achieving a speed of 600 rpm. From this concept, Daimler and Maybach invented the ‘Grandfather Clock.’
In 1885, they fitted a scaled down version of the ‘Grandfather Clock’ into a wooden two-wheeler – the ‘riding car’ and by 1886, they had put it into a carriage chassis and the ‘first’ automobile was born. The maximum speed was 900 rpm and the engine was light - at just 40 kg.
In 1890 Daimler founded DMG with Max Duttenhofer and Wilhelm Lorenz, but professional differences later forced Maybach and Daimler to break with the company. When they returned in 1895, Maybach developed some significant design concepts - the Phoenix engine, the belt-driven car and the spray nozzle carburettor – were used widely for many years in the car industry.
In 1900, the engine that Maybach developed for the 35 hp Mercedes typically featured a number of innovations – including controlled intake valves and exhaust valves.
When Duttenhofer died in 1903, Maybach’s position in the company began to deteriorate and he resigned from DMG in 1907. The year before, in 1906, he had designed the six-cylinder racing engine – which became the archetype for many later engines, including aircraft.
After leaving DMG, Maybach went into business with his sons; an incredible career had established an incredible legacy. Maybach died at Cannstatt in December 1929 aged 83.
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