The Life of the Man Who Invented the World’s First Car
Everyone viewing this website is a bit high; else, you would not have clicked on the link. While many people contributed to your passion for autos, one in particular was the catalyst. Let there be light (emitted by a spark plug in an engine cylinder)! This time, Dyler is writing about the most influential person in automotive history. Karl Friedrich Benz is credited with inventing the vehicle.
Gutenberg, the man who changed the world, was born in 1844 in a Germany that had not yet been united. Karl’s fascination with mechanics was most likely acquired from his father, a locomotive driver.
Karl probably didn’t remember his father because he died when he was just two years old. When his mother was left to raise her kid alone in poverty, she saw the value of education early on and encouraged young Karl to complete his studies.
He excelled exceptionally well at school, particularly in math, physics, and engineering. And, despite his desire to be a blacksmith, young Karl chose to study locomotive engineering, most likely out of respect for his father.
the Man Who Invented the World’s First Car
Karl enjoyed spending time as a student on a popular vehicle at the time: the bicycle. This appears to be when he initially conceived of the idea of an internal combustion engine horseless vehicle. Benz finished his studies in 1864 and began looking for work. Karl worked for a scales factory, a bridge building firm, and other technical companies for roughly a year at a time during his hunt. The young man most likely disliked being a subordinate and eventually decided to go it alone.
He and his old buddy August Ritter founded the Mannheim Iron Foundry and Mechanical Workshop in 1871, which was eventually renamed the Factory for Machines for Sheet-Metal Working. The workshop was a two-fold success. The company struggled and would have failed if it hadn’t received financial aid from Karl’s future wife, Bertha. However, the intellectually stimulating setting allowed Karl to come up with a plethora of innovative ideas that were patented for parts that are still used in many cars today.
The spark plug, the carburettor, the water radiator, the clutch, the gear shift, and, most importantly, the patent for the internal combustion engine, which he received just before Christmas of 1879, when the world heard not only the singing of choirs celebrating Christ’s birth, but also the rattle of Benz’s two-stroke engine.
Karl was able to devote his profits from the internal combustion engine patent to his old aim of developing a horseless vehicle. Six years after the development of the engine, the automobile era began when Karl Benz rolled the world’s first car out of his workshop – the Benz Patent-Motorwagen. Given that it was his first pancake, the car was exceedingly difficult to manage, even for the inventor, who drove it into a wall during the first presentation; thankfully, no one was injured.
In 1883, Karl created Benz & Cie., which developed internal combustion engines and later evolved into the corporation with the three-pointed star on the hood. Karl displayed an updated version of his car, previously known as the Model 3, at the 1888 Paris World’s Fair, where the prophet of the new age drew a lot of attention from the people.
Karl decided to start selling it after seeing the public interest. That is how the first commercially sold automobile, the Benz Motorwagen, made its way onto the world’s roadways. However, just like any other commodity, a car cannot be sold without strong advertisement. And this car needed it badly, because it still didn’t have any gears, and its poor brakes and feeble engine meant that when it encountered a steep hill, it stopped traveling forward and succumbed to gravity… Fortunately, his beloved wife Bertha stepped in – and most petrolheads should thank no one more than Karl himself for popularizing the automobile.
Consider a simple journey in which you wish to take your children to see your mother, who lives 100 kilometers away. But it’s 1888 outside, fuel is only available at the pharmacy, and the car in your yard is one of only a few in the globe. It would seem insane to attempt that 100 kilometers when you couldn’t even rely on roadside assistance, but Bertha Benz had other ideas. Bertha took her husband’s three-wheeler out of the workshop without asking and went out with her sons to visit their grandma on August 5, 1888. The distance traveled was 105 kilometers, and the trip duration was until the nightfall of the same day.
You have to wonder how Karl felt that evening when he received a telegram informing him that his wife had stolen his automobile and was now staying with her mother. And the journey itself was not easy. Back then, no one imagined service stations with hot dogs, and Bertha supposedly prayed that she would get at the next drugstore as quickly as possible so that she could fill up. Of course, she got there the quickest by riding downhill, because Benz’s carriage didn’t know how to brake.
Bertha then invented something else that is still in use today: she stopped in one town and asked a local shoemaker to attach bits of leather to the brake blocks so they would grip the wheel surface better. That’s how the world learned about brake pads, as well as that cars are useful for more than just circling the yard and scaring the neighbors.
Meanwhile, Bertha’s marketing effort is still recognized. The Bertha Benz Memorial Route was officially recognized as part of humanity’s industrial legacy in 2008. And you can try it too: there is an online GPS download that will guide you through the first long distance trip taken by the world’s first long distance driver.
As the nineteenth century came to a close, Karl’s invention gradually acquired popularity. The initial Benz & Cie. models, the Velo and the Victoria, were the world’s first production vehicles. The Victoria was the first automobile to include a four-stroke engine and pivotal axles, both of which were patented by Benz and solved one of the most serious handling issues that early automobiles faced. Benz was the world’s largest automaker in 1899, when Henry Ford was still developing his ideas, producing 572 automobiles that year. Karl Benz built the world’s first truck in 1895, which Netphener tweaked slightly and transformed into the world’s first motor bus.
And a question for Subaru and Porsche fans: have you ever considered who designed the horizontally opposed engine utilized in the Boxster and Japanese rally monsters? That was also Karl Benz’s merit. This occurred in 1895, when Karl patented the “contra engine” to conserve room in his future projects.
Vehicles using internal combustion engines were utilized in unprecedented numbers during World War I. The vehicle took over the world as quickly as Homo sapiens did. You’d think Karl and his family would be pleased with the success of their job, but Benz & Cie. was getting worse and worse. Because of Germany’s increasing inflation, no one was buying automobiles anymore, and the company was on the point of bankruptcy. Benz & Cie. joined with Daimler Motoren Gesellschaft in 1926, a firm that had been employing Karl’s engines in their vehicles since the early twentieth century.
So was founded Daimler-Benz, whose Mercedes-Benz brand has been the world’s most well-known automobile manufacturer for over a century. Karl survived to see the company’s revival before passing away at the age of 84 in 1929. Bertha, his trip companion, died in 1944. The house where they used to reside is now a memorial museum dedicated to the man whose work changed the world and who was inducted into the Detroit Automotive Hall of Fame in 1984!