Karl Benz

Invention of the Benz Patent Motorcar

In 1885, German mechanical engineer, Karl Benz designed and built the world's first practical automobile to be powered by an internal-combustion engine. On January 29, 1886, Benz received the first patent (DRP No. 37435) for a gas-fueled car. It was a three-wheeler, the Motorwagen or Benz Patent Motorcar.

Benz built his first four-wheeled car in 1891. Benz & Company, the company, started by the inventor, became the world's largest manufacturer of automobiles by 1900.

He also was the first legally licensed driver in the world, having one issued by the Grand Duke of Baden.

Biography of Karl Benz

Karl Friedrich Benz was born in 1844 in Baden Muehlburg, Germany (now part of Karlsruhe). He was the son of a locomotive engine driver who died when Benz was only two years old. His mother ensured he got a good education despite their limited means. Benz attended the Karlsruhe grammar school and later the Karlsruhe Polytechnic University. He studied mechanical engineering at the University of Karlsruhe and graduated in 1864 when he was only 19 years old.

In 1871, He founded his first company with partner August Ritter, the "Iron Foundry and Machine Shop" a supplier of building materials. He married Bertha Ringer in 1872, who played an active role in his business, including buying out his partner, who had become unreliable.

Developing the Motorwagen

Benz began his work on a two-stroke engine, in hopes of finding a new income.

He received his first patent in 1879. He had to invent many parts of the system as he went along, including the throttle, ignition, spark plugs, carburetor, clutch, radiator, and gear shift.

In 1883, he founded Benz & Company to produce industrial engines in Mannheim, Germany. He then began designing a "motor carriage", with a four-stroke engine (based on Nicolaus Otto's patent).

Benz designed his engine (958cc, 0.75hp) and the body for the three-wheel vehicle with an electric ignition, differential gears, and water-cooling.

The car was first driven in Mannheim in 1885. In one trial, it achieved the speed of eight miles per hour. On January 29, 1886, he was granted a patent for his gas-fueled automobile (DRP 37435) and in July, he began selling his automobile to the public. Parisian bicycle-maker Emile Roger added them to his line and sold them there, becoming the first commercially-available automobile.

Bertha took the Motorwagen on a historic 66-mile trip from Mannheim to Pforzheim to show its practicality for families. Gasoline had to be bought at pharmacies, and she had to repair several malfunctions. An annual antique auto rally is now held yearly in her honor on this, the Bertha Benz Memorial Route. Her experience led to adding gears for climbing hills and brake pads.

Further Inventions and Firsts of Karl Benz

In 1893, the Benz Velo became the world's first inexpensive, mass-produced car, with 1200 produced. It participated in the world's first automobile race in 1894, although it only achieved 14th place. Benz designed the first truck in 1895 and the first motor bus.

He patented the boxer flat engine design in 1896.

In 1903, Karl Benz retired from Benz & Company; his designs were already outdated by Gottlieb Daimler. He served as a member of the supervisory board of Daimler-Benz AG from 1926, when the company was formed, until his death.  Together, Bertha and Karl had five children. Karl Benz passed away in 1929.