Mercedes, a Spanish girl’s name meaning “grace,” was the name of a favorite daughter born on September 16, 1889 to the Austrian businessman and Consul General, Emil Jellinek and his wife, Rachel.
A progressive thinker with an interest in sport, Jellinek turned his enthusiasm to the dawning age of the automobile, an invention he knew would be of key importance for the future. As early as 1897, he made the journey to Cannstatt to visit the Daimler factory and ordered his first Daimler car, a belt-driven vehicle with a six-hp two-cylinder engine.
From 1899, he entered these cars in races, first and foremost of which was the Tour de Nice, where he would race under the pseudonym “Mercedes,” the name of his ten year old daughter, and a name that was becoming well known in motoring circles. It promptly won first prize. In April 1900, Jellinek made an agreement with DMG concerning sales of cars and engines and the decision was made to use Jellinek’s pseudonym as a product name.During Tour de Nice Week in March 1901 Mercedes vehicles were found to be unbeatable in virtually every discipline. This attracted enormous publicity for Jellinek and Mercedes.
On June 23, 1902, Mercedes was recorded as the trade name and was legally registered on September 26. In June 1903, Emil Jellinek obtained permission to call himself Jellinek-Mercedes, commenting that “this is probably the first time a father has taken his daughter’s name.”
Mercedes did not share her father’s passion for automobiles. She played music and had a lovely soprano voice. Mercedes lived in Vienna where she died in February 1929 at the age of 39.