The birth of the car… The Benz Patent-Wagen #throwbackthursday
130 years ago, Carl Benz applied for a patent for his three-wheeled “vehicle with gas engine”. The car was born. Meet the Benz Patent-Motorwagen…
ON THE 2 November 1886, Carl Benz received his stamped patent (DRP 37 435) for his Benz Patent Motor Car, and the ‘car’ was officially born, although in truth, Benz had completed his working Patent Motorwagen the year before (1885). At the same time, Gottlieb Daimler had his single-cylinder engine patented (DRP 36 811) and then dropped into a carriage… it became the world’s first four-wheeled vehicle to be powered by an internal combustion engine.
Benz had trundled his Patent-Motorwagen out in 1886 for one or two public displays, but there had been no long-distance trial of his vehicle, something his wife had urged him was necessary. It wasn’t until 1888 that Bertha Benz and her children snuck out of their house with a plan to drive the Patent-Motorwagen from Mannheim to Pforzheim, 106 kilometres.
The drive proved a success with Bertha Benz using a hatpin to clear a blocked fuel line, and having a cobbler nail leather patches to the wooden brake blocks to improve durability. Bertha and her children kept Carl in the loop by sending back a series of telegrams. This became the world’s first long-distance drive by a motor car.
The Patent-Motorwagen was in production from 1886 until 1894, with a total of 25 vehicles sold. Engines ranged in output from 1.5-3 horsepower (or 1.1-2.2kW). The original was the Type I. It had steel-spoked wheels as per bicycle manufacturing of the day. Like the Type I, the Type II was also built initially as a three-wheeler, but was later converted to four wheels as an experiment. It’s believed only one was ever built. Finally, the Type III was the first motor car to be sold in small numbers, making it the world’s first ever production car.