The Kiekhaefer Corporation was founded by Carl Kiekhaefer in 1940. He developed an outboard engine for quick, powerful, dependable boating power. He called it Mercury, after the messenger of the Roman gods.
At the 1940 New York Boat Show, Kiekhaefer displayed his engines for the first time. Carl accepted orders for more than 16,000 motors.
In December 1941, the United States entered World War II. Nationwide, factories were converted to manufacture equipment for the war effort.
After the war, things changed. Kiekhaefer anticipated the boom in recreational boating and the increasing demand for larger and more powerful outboard motors. At the 1947 New York Boat Show, Mercury introduced "Lightning".
In 1948, Kiekhaefer built the prototype of the Mercury Thunderbolt. It was a larger, more powerful outboard to meet the growing demands of the post-war boating boom. Thunderbolt was the industry's first four-cylinder-in-line, two-cycle, 40-cubic-inch engine.
In 1957, the company began operations at a 1,400-acre undeveloped Florida lake. To keep the location a secret, Carl Kiekhaefer referred to it as "Lake X" and the name stuck.
That same year, the Mark 75 was introduced, the industry's first six-cylinder, 60-hp outboard.
In 1961, Kiekhaefer merged with Brunswick Corporation, whose 125 years of leisure business leadership brought capital for sustained growth around the world.
The revolutionary MerCruiser engine was introduced at the Chicago Boat Show that same year, offering the first sterndrive unit of over 100 hp. It combined the power and economy of inboard engines with the flexibility and maneuverability of outboard drive units. Within the next few years, Kiekhaefer also unveiled the first 100 and 125-horsepower outboards, and also introduced the distinctive “phantom black” cowl that has become Mercury’s trademark.
Carl Kiekhaefer resigned as president of the company in 1969, and shortly thereafter the company’s name was officially changed from Kiekhaefer Marine to Mercury Marine.
In 1976, Mariner Outboards were introduced in Europe and the United States.
In 1993 the company introduced a new product line, the Sport Jet 90, on Bayliner and Sea Ray boats. Two years later, Sport Jet introduced a 120-hp model, the perfect engine for towing skiers, knee boarders and tubers. And, with the introduction of the Sport Jet 175V6, V-6 power became available in a mini-jet engine.
In 1996, Mercury and Mariner introduced 200-hp, OptiMax direct fuel-injected, two-stroke outboard engines.
In 1998 the late Carl Kiekhaefer was inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America at the Motorsports Museum in Novi, Mich. As the largest division of Brunswick Corporation, Mercury has facilities across the United States and throughout the world, with over 6000 employees and over 7000 dealers worldwide.
The company is integrally involved in conservation issues and also supports fishing, boating, boat racing and watersports activities.