In June 1911 the 37/90 hp Mercedes became the new top-of-the-range model in the DMG sales portfolio. This high-performance car succeeded the six-cylinder models of 1907 and, like these, featured a chain drive – although this was the last time this type of drive would be used in a DMG vehicle: all subsequent models came with a propshaft drive. A noteworthy innovation in the 37/90 hp model, however, was the modification of enclosed drive chains that ran in an oil bath. The four-cylinder engine was equipped with three-valve technology and dual ignition. Initially it had a displacement of 9.5 litres, rising to 9.8 litres in the revised 38/100 hp successor model.
DMG’s top-of-the-range model was considered a sporty and powerful touring car featuring state-of-the-art design. Unsurprisingly, therefore, the vast majority of customers ordered it with a sports or racing body and it was among the first Mercedes models to be available with pointed radiator and external exhaust pipes. The engine of the 37/90 hp also distinguished itself in motor racing. In 1912 and 1914 American racing driver Ralph de Palma won the Vanderbilt Cup driving a modified Mercedes Grand Prix racing car of 1908 fitted with a 37/90 hp power unit.
This car was based on the 1908 GP racing car; it was equipped with a standard car engine. Fitted with a special radiator fairing, this car was shipped to the USA where it won the 1912 and 1914 Vanderbilt Cup with Ralph de Palma at the wheel. Another version of this car was raced in the 1914 Sarthe Grand Prix and came in 8th, driven by Leon Elskamp.