110 years have passed since Ferdinand Porsche developed the first purely petrol-driven car for Austro-Daimler – the AD Maja 28/32.
In September 1906, Emil Jellinek, head of the Austro-Daimler company, brought in Ferdinand Porsche to Daimler in Wiener Neustadt as a new development manager and technical director for the construction of AD Maja. After only six months, on 28 February 1907, the first specimen with the unique oak leaves coat of arms on the cylinder blocks was presented at the Viennese automobile exhibition. Archduke Leopold Salvator, a cousin of the Emperor and responsible for the motorisation of the Austro-Hungarian imperial army, already showed interest at the exhibition, and in 1908 he took over the Maja 28/32, which was equipped for his personal use with a splendid town coachwork by the coachmaker Cerny.
In the 4-speed petrol motored vehicle (4.5-litre engine) the rear wheels were still driven by chains from the gearbox. As usual at the time, the steering wheel and the imposing ball horn were on the right; the spare wheels and luggage were transported on the roof. The passenger compartment with the folding seat in the middle exuded even more elegance with its polished glass.
The technical novelties of the Maja were a particular source of attention: low-voltage magneto ignition from Bosch, two-piston oil pump, honeycomb cooler, side valve motor with mechanically controlled inlet and outlet valves, transmission based on the inventor Diamant. The latter was particularly pleasing because of the small gear lever in the middle of the steering wheel, but unfortunately had to be replaced by a conventional gearbox soon after because it was wrought with complicated repairs and costly replacements.
How did the name come about? The name Maja has a personal background: Jellinek named the new automobile marque, as he had for the Mercedes marque, after one of his daughters.
The original Maja from 1908 can be viewed at fahr(T)raum (Mattsee).
Further technical details can be found here.