By the close of the first decade of the 20th century, the automobile had progressed significantly beyond its early ‘horse-less carriage’ origins, thanks largely to the contributions of Karl Benz. In the United States, the focus had shifted towards production techniques that democratized access to cars, transforming them from luxury items exclusive to the wealthy into affordable means of transportation for the general public. However, prior to the outbreak of the First World War, there remained a notable market for large luxury cars, attracting a considerable number of affluent buyers.
During this era, prominent foreign contenders in the American automotive landscape were Rolls-Royce and Benz, the latter represented by the Benz Auto Import Company of America located on Broadway, New York City. In 1911, Benz offered chassis at prices ranging from $3,250 for the 18hp model to $8,500 for the 60hp variant, a stark contrast to the under-$700 cost of a new Ford Model T. Opting for custom coachwork of the highest quality could further elevate the total cost of a Benz to astronomical levels.
Benz justified these premium prices not only through the exceptional quality of their vehicles but also by leveraging the sterling reputation earned through competitive achievements. The 21-liter Blitzen Benz, in particular, set a series of land speed records, climaxing in a remarkable 141.7 mph run at Ormond Beach, Florida. This outright land speed record remained unbroken until 1919.