On January 29, 1886, when Carl Benz submitted the patent for a three-wheeled vehicle with gas engine to the Imperial Patent Office in Berlin, it created a sensation never seen before! The patent specification for that automobile – The Benz Patent Motorwagen is considered as the birth certificate of the automobile revolution.


The only intention of Benz then was an integrated approach in developing the Patent Motor Car, i.e., engine, chassis and drive components coming together to form a single unit – the motorized carriage. Here are some interesting facts about the world’s first practical automobile, The Benz Patent Motorwagen.

  1. It is the World’s First ‘Production’ Automobile and 25 production version units of the motor car were sold between 1886 and 1893.
  2. World’s first car had only three wheels as Benz was not satisfied with the steering systems available for four-wheelers back in 1886.
  3. The world’s first car had a mileage of just 10km/l. Weighing about 100 kilograms, it was very light by the standards of the periodyet had all the essential details still to be found today in most internal combustion engines.
  4. The engine was started by manually spinning the large flywheel.
  5. Major features were the tubular steel frame resembling a horse shoe, the differential and one metre high three wire-spoked wheels echoing that of a bicycle.
  6. The original cost of the vehicle in 1885 was $1,000.
  7. Hand stitched leather bench seat and a polished wooden floor defined the only luxury.
  8. Benz’s wife, Bertha, financed the development process from her dowry money. According to modern law, she would have received the patent rights, but married women were not allowed to apply for patents at that time.
  9. Bertha’s unique way of publicizing the Patent-Motorwagen by drivingthe first long-distance automobile road trip without her husband’s knowledge to demonstrate its feasibility as a means to travel long distances created a statement and engraved her name in automobile history, being the first long distance driver.
  10. Bertha acted as mechanic on the drive, cleaning the carburettor with her hat pin and using a garter to insulate a wire. She also asked a local shoemaker to nail leather on the brake blocks when it wore down, thus inventing brake lining.

A legendary machine with moderate consumption figures, the Motorwagen unfortunately did not come with a driver’s manual. Had there been one, it probably would have read something like this: “To start the engine, vigorously turn the flywheel at the rear, having already activated the ignition using the switch under the seat and regulated the air supply for the engine using the hand wheel. Actuating the gear lever moves the belt from the idler pulley to the drive pulley for starting off; this lever can be used to control starting off, the vehicle speed (lever forwards) and the brake (lever backwards). Finally, the toothed-rack steering for the single front wheel is actuated from an unusually high position using a centrally positioned vertical crank in front of the seat bench”.


From that description to today’s ebooks and a car in space, automobiles have certainly come a long way!!!


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