Page 1 of 1 Like almost all of their contemporaries, the early Mercedes cars, designed by Gottlieb Daimler and Wilhelm Maybach, used chains to drive the rear wheels. It was considered the only reliable way of transferring the torque produced, especially by the large engined models. In 1908, Mercedes broke that mould with the introduction of the new 35hp, or the 'cardan car'. This was a reference to Italian mathematician, philosopher and physician Gerolamo Cardano, to whom the invention of universal joints is often attributed.
Compared to the chains previously used the new propellor shaft employed by the 35 hp was lighter, less noisy and did not require constant lubrication. A disadvantage was the additional vibration caused by the more solid connection between the engine and the rest of the drivetrain. Constant development had cured all the problems associated with a cardan drive and following its introduction on smaller engined models in 1905, Gottlieb Daimler felt the time was right to also offer it on the top of the range models. Chain-drive models were, however, still available up until 1914.
What was carried over from the previous 35 hp chain-drive Simplex model was the four-cylinder engine. Constructed from a pair of two cylinder blocks, it featured vertically mounted valves actuated by two laterally mounted camshafts. The 5.3-litre engine also sported twin-spark ignition and produced 35 bhp. Mated to a four-speed gearbox, it was installed in a straightforward pressed-steel ladder frame. Suspension was by rigid axles and semi-elliptic leaf springs on both ends. Capable of a top speed of 70 km/h, the only measure to slow the 35hp down was a water-cooled brake that acted directly on the driveshaft.
Following the introduction in 1908, the new 'cardan car' was renamed the 21/35 hp with the former referring to the taxable horsepower figure. In 1910, it was replaced by the slightly larger engined 22/40 hp, which in turn evolved into the 22/50 hp, which remained in production until 1920. Page 1 of 1