Book Reveiws

“My Father Mr. Mercedes,” by Guy Jellinek Mercedes. 319 pp., 9 in. 5 3/4 in. (G.T. Foulis & Co. Ltd., 1-5 Portpool Lane, London, W.C.1. 45s.)

I was not able to get to grips with this book. It tells the life story of Emil Jellinek, who in 1896 left Nice to travel to Cannstatt, where he bought a new 6-h.p. Daimler. In 1897 he ordered 140 of these horseless carriages and set up in business selling them, as sole agent outside Germany. He began to call these German Daimlers by his daughter’s name of Mercedes and later called himself Emil Jellinek-Mercedes.

His son tells of his stormy life, of quarrels with Daimler; of his houses, yachts, his interest in motor racing and motor-boat racing, his eventual ruin in the First World War, which caused his death, at the age of 64, in January 1918. There are many historic letters reproduced in the book, some good Mercedes photographs; yet nothing very new emerges for the serious historian. No real explanation of Count Zborowski’s fatal accident at La Turbie in 1903. nothing fresh as to why Boillot retired in his Peugeot from the dramatic 1914 French GP., leaving victory to the Mercedes team. Nor do I believe that Fournier took “almost every bend on two wheels” in winning the 1901 Paris-Berlin Race for Mors. There are, it is true. interesting references to how Hotchkiss copied early Mercedes designs, the law suit with Panhard Levassor, and the opening chapter explains how Jellinek-Mercedes’ 1903 Sixty Mercedes limousine was found in 1953 (or in 1952 according to a photograph caption) to be still in the garages in the yard of what was once the “Villa Mercedes” in Nice (long since replaced by a block of flats), having survived two World Wars, and was bought for the Daimler-Benz Museum in Stuttgart for a large sum of money—” . . the heirs of Emil Jellinek-Mercedes and the Directors of Daimler-Benz agreed that never before had so much been paid for an old crock.” This Mercedes, in which so many noble people had ridden, survived the 1914/18 war, although a Rolls-Royce in the “Villa Mercedes” garages “was mobilised although it was due to end on a rubbish dump,” Jellinek’s 35-h.p. Mercedes 2-seater was used as a weapon carrier, his electric coupe just vanished, when the French took over, and his yacht found a grave in the harbour of Monaco. It is amusing, too, that after severing with the Mercedes Company, Mr. Mercedes wrote to the technical Press praising his new 1913 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost, which he called “the most perfect, the most comfortable, the most noiseless and the best suspended automobile; in short, I regard the Rolls-Royce as the best car at present.”

To me these are the most interesting items in the entire book. But it is possible that industrial researchers and chroniclers of Edwardian Society, if not motoring enthusiasts, may enjoy it. W.B.