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Steinway and Daimler-Benz

Steinway and Daimler-Benz

The story of the Steinway piano dynasty is fairly well known; not so the connection between Steinway and Daimler-Benz.

In 1886 the steamship and the railroad were the backbone of long distance traveling, however the horse was still a part of daily life for riding and pulling vehicles. In that year of 1886 the first car, powered by a fast running combustion engine, left the workshop of Gottlieb Daimler and Karl Benz, to stutter down the cobblestone streets of Bad Cannstatt and Mannheim in Germany. This event initiated the era of the "internal combustion engine" and set in motion the greatest change in human history and the environment.

On October 6, 1888, a contract was signed between William Steinway of Steinway & Sons in New York and Gottlieb Daimler. The two men had become acquainted through Wilhelm Maybach who, during the World's Fair in Philadelphia, visited his brother, an employee of Steinway. This contract provided for the manufacture of Daimler engines and products in America and the result of the contract was the "Daimler Motor Company" in New York. The site of the Steinway piano factory on Long Island, New York, offered sufficient space for the production facilities, especially for the installation of Hartford-made engines into boats.

William Steinway had made a contract with the National Machine Company in Hartford, Connecticut, for the purpose of manufacturing Daimler engines. A plaque in memory of the construction of the first Daimler engine in the USA can be seen on the building of the present Underwood Works in Hartford.

Around the turn of the century some basic changes in conception occurred in automobile construction which resulted in a hitherto not achieved efficiency of performance and roadability represented in a 35 HP car named "Mercedes." The Mercedes conception had been achieved by Wilhelm Maybach in close cooperation with Gottlieb Daimler, dating back to 1883. German-made Mercedes luxury cars are still popular in Indiana today.

Source: "The History of Industrial Automobile Production in the United States Up to the Time of the Century and the German Influence" in Antique Automobile, Vol. 35, Jan-Feb 1971

Eberhard and Ruth Reichmann

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