American Daimler celebrates 125 years image

On 29 September 1888, piano manufacturer William Steinway established the Daimler Motor Company on Long Island, New York – the first European car manufacturer in the United States of America.

Just two years after the birth of the automobile began the history of Daimler in North America, with the aim to produce stationary and marine engines in the United States according to a patent owned by Gottlieb Daimler.

New York piano-maker William Steinway was particularly interested in the use of Daimler engines as stationary power sources and marine drive systems. Born Willhelm Steinweg in Seesen near Braunschweig (Brunswick), Germany, in 1835, the famous instrument builder had emigrated to North America in 1850 and met Daimler on a visit back to his homeland in 1888. Steinway had known Wilhelm Maybach, design engineer and Daimler confidant, since 1876, and it is likely that he was responsible for bringing the two together.

In August 1890, Daimler shipped the first Wilhelm Maybach-designed four-cylinder engine to New York. The 451-kilogram power plant boasted a displacement of 6 litres and delivered 9 kW (12.3 hp) at 390 rpm. This was followed 10 days later by a 2.4-litre variant, developed in parallel, which weighed in at 153 kilograms and had a power output of 4 kW (5.9 hp) at 620 rpm. Both models were intended for installation in boats.

Steinway’s heirs sold their shares in Daimler Motor Company to General Electric Company and, following restructuring; from 1898 onwards the manufacturing operation became the Daimler Manufacturing Company. It was not until 1905 that the first “American Mercedes” was finally produced. This was essentially a copy of the Mercedes 45 hp already built in Cannstatt.