Chart: Timeline of Mercury Marine on its 75th anniversary

  • Article by: DENNIS ANDERSON , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 28, 2014 - 8:35 PM

Elmer Carl Kiekhaefer, founder of company that would become Mercury Marine.

January 22, 1939

Elmer Carl Kiekhaefer purchases the bankrupt Cedarburg (Wis.) Manufacturing Co., intending to build magnetic separators for dairy farms. He redesigns and repairs 300 outboards abandoned by previous owners, sells the motors and finds himself in the outboard motor business. The next year, the Mercury brand is introduced with five engine models.


The 10-horsepower Mercury Lightning is introduced at the New York Boat Show. Touting “Full-Jeweled Power,” the motor boasts the most horsepower per pound ever.


The world’s first four-in-line two-cycle outboard, the Mercury Thunderbolt, is introduced.


The first six-cylinder outboard engine, the Mercury Mark 75, is introduced. At 60 horsepower, it is the most powerful outboard available.


Kiekhaefer launches “Operation Atlas,” a nonstop, “around the world” endurance run on its secret testing lake in Florida using two boats powered by Mark 75 outboards. After 34 days, 11 hours, 47 minutes and 5.4 seconds, the first boat completes 25,003 miles, followed minutes later by the second boat.


“The Tower of Power,” the Mercury 1000, is the world’s first 100-horsepower production outboard. It is also the first Mercury outboard painted “Phantom Black,” which becomes Mercury’s signature branding.


Mercury snow vehicles are sold to the public for the first time.


Brooks Abernathy, who became president of Kiekhaefer Mercury after Kiekhaefer’s resignation in 1969, announces the division’s name change to Mercury Marine.


The 1750 “Black Max” is introduced as the first V-6 outboard, the highest horsepower production motor available.

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