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120 years ago, the name of an 11-year-old girl became the epitome of cars and the first luxury car brand in the world. Seen here is the 40 hp Simplex from 1902 - the oldest still existing Mercedes. Image Credit: Daimler AG

It has been 135 years since the Benz Patent-Motorwagen changed the notion of personal transportation, but Mercedes-Benz is marking a very different anniversary this week. It was during the first week of April in 1900 when the German luxury carmaker got its now iconic name – but do you know how this melodious Spanish name was chosen?

Well, 120 years ago, Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft decided to name its automobiles Mercedes after the 11-year old daughter of Austrian businessman Emil Jellinek, who traded in Daimler vehicles and registered them for racing.

The first car was the elegantly designed Mercedes 35 PS and it featured highly advanced technology which helped it to win several races in Nice the following year. It is often regarded as the prototype of the modern automobile.

The Mercedes name was then registered as a trademark in June 1902 and then changed to Mercedes-Benz in June 1926 following the merger of the Daimler and Benz companies.

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Mercedes Jellinek (1889 to 1929), on a Mercedes Grand-Prix racing car from 1906. Image Credit: Daimler AG

It is still, to this very day, the only automotive brand to feature a female name. "Women like Mercedes Jellinek or Bertha Benz shaped the success story of Mercedes-Benz from the start," says Bettina Fetzer, head of Marketing Mercedes-Benz AG. “With our She’s Mercedes initiative, founded in 2015, we are building on this tradition for our numerous female customers around the world. The future of Mercedes-Benz will combine sustainability and luxury in a fascinating way."

Commenting on the brand's longevity, Gorden Wagener, the Chief Design Officer for the Daimler Group, said: "Our quest for the perfect realization of luxury and the driving of innovation is part of our brand DNA. It forms the basis of the sustained success of our brand."

Mercedes now has a brand identity which transcends the motoring world, but 120 year ago we are sure that Emil could not have imagined even in his wildest dreams that his daughter's name would grace models such as the sporty AMG GT R or the ever so classy S-Class today.