Mercedes’ 1959 Attempt to Buy BMW

Imagining the Mercedes Trifecta.

The long-running competition between German luxury automobile makers is something that has been around since the dawn of time, with Mercedes, Audi, and BMW all nearly being part of the same corporate body. In point of fact, these three giants of the industry had been inextricably linked for a number of years before finally going their separate ways.

It all began comparatively early in 1958 when Daimler-Benz, the parent corporation of Mercedes, gave the thumbs-up to the acquisition of close to 88 percent of Auto Union, the car business that had possession of Audi and three other marks. This company had been founded since 1932, uniting Audi, Horch, DKW, and Wanderer in one roof. Auto Union very nearly passed away after World War II and was effectively brought back to life in 1949.

Friedrich Flick, principal shareholder in Daimler-Benz, was the mastermind behind joining together Mercedes and Auto Union. His vision entailed that both firms could gain efficiencies through shared operations, as well as help to reduce expenses. Less than 24 months later, the esteemed brand renowned for its three-pointed star logo completed the purchase of all outstanding stock. The end result being Audi was now wholly owned by Daimler-Benz.

1959 could’ve been a landmark year in history had a certain deal between two German luxury brands gone through. Daimler-Benz was still on the lookout, and it almost acquired BMW only a few months after having fully taken over Auto Union. At BMW’s Annual General Meeting in December 1959, a press release from the company declared that “the sale of the company to Daimler Benz AG appeared to be already a foregone conclusion”.

Back in the late 1950s, BMW was in a tough spot. Both its cars and motorcycles were not selling well, and the company was “on the edge of financial collapse,” according to a press release. This led to the search for a new owner, with many believing this would be the only way to save BMW from further crisis. A sale to Daimler-Benz was almost a done deal, yet it eventually did not go through.

Shareholders had no accord with the restructuring plan presented by Daimler-Benz because they felt the employees and BMW were not properly remunerated. In consequence, BMW stayed an autonomous make, still struggling in 1960 when principal stockholder Herbert Quandt created a reorganizational program. The 700 provided a revival as sales picked up but it was the 1500 section of the Neue Klasse line that drastically changed BMW’s destiny for the better.

Despite the breakdown of negotiations between BMW and Daimler-Benz, Auto Union stayed in the latter’s possession up until the first day of 1965. Volkswagen then decided to take a majority stake by obtaining 50.3% of the company, and eventually, at the end of 1966, acquired all the securities leading to its amalgamation with NSU Motorenwerke by 1969 – which gave birth to Audi NSU Auto Union AG. That entity then underwent further transformations before transforming into what is now recognized as Audi AG in 1985.

Wondering if products of the Daimler-Auto Union partnership were ever created? The solution to this query must definitely be a definite yes! Specialists from Untertürkheim at Daimler-Benz were summoned to Ingolstadt to build a new four-cylinder motor. Developed in Stuttgart, the M118 first appeared as the Audi four-ring logo’s earliest car since WW2 to operate with a four-stroke motor in September 1965. Labeled simply as the Audi, this automobile was eventually re-branded the Audi 72 due to its power (72 PS).

In regards to what rewards Daimler-Benz reaped from the transaction, Auto Union leased their facility located in Düsseldorf in 1962. Subsequently, when Volkswagen acquired the organization three years after, they maintained the establishment and it still remains belonging to the company to this day. This is the largest factory for manufacturing and assembling vans owned by the corporation, with the Sprinter production taking place there as well.

Concerning the W118, referred to internally as a ‘saloon’, and the coupe framework titled the W119, Daimler-Benz’s former Head of Development, Fritz Nallinger, provided some details about their conception in advance of his departure in December 1965. Both models featured M118 carbureted engine and were created with front-wheel driving in mind in 1962. Regrettably, neither model wound up being built.

Nevertheless, the moment was never realized. Not until 1982 when the inception of the W201 surfaced as the entry-level Mercedes. The present equivalent is the W206 C-Class though its positioning in the line-up is altered since it is not exactly a base model. Above the array of small cars such as the A-Class and CLA rests the C-Class.

The baby Benz twosome from the early 1960s seemed as if they were practically ready to go into production. Especially when one consider the interior images of the W118 saloon, they look to be absolutely completed. The DKW F102 launched in 1963 did not vary a lot in terms of styling. However, it was deprived of a four-stroke motor and had a two-stroke engine with 60 horsepower instead.

Just a few short months after the release of the DKW F102 as the final vehicle to bear its badge, it was decided that a switch would be made from the previous outdated 1.2-liter, three-cylinder engine and towards a powertrain provided by Mercedes-Benz. Depending on what it was used for, the updated four-cylinder M118 produced up to 89 horsepower and was manufactured until 1972 when it was succeeded by Volkswagen’s very own EA827 engine. Remarkably, this engine continued to remain in use right up until 2013 in vehicles produced in China by Volkswagen.

It’s unimaginable to assess what could be if Mercedes did possess both BMW and Audi at the here and now. All of these treasured German extravagance cars have commemorated us with iconic models throughout the ages, and we are unwavering advocates thatconsonance is advantageous. Contest urges firms to perform superior and one-up their adversaries to get a large portion of the market share. In 2023 when economies of scale become the standard, it isn’t difficult to envisage a Mercedes restructured as either a BMW or an Audi. Fortunately, that isn’t occurring.

Sources: Audi, Mercedes-Benz

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