Motoring Trailblazers - Benz Patent-MotorWagen

Sun 14th Apr 2019

The world of motoring is hurtling headlong into a bright new future of all-electric, automated, connected technology - and Marty McFly is not behind the wheel! But what were the cars that were ‘back to the future’ of years gone by?

There have been many different trailblazing motors which were seen by the critics to be ahead of their time, and in this series, we will investigate and showcase many of the best in class.

Benz Patent-Motorwagen
The oldest car in this series so far, and for good reason, when Karl Benz applied for patent number 37435 in January 1886, he putting the literal wheels in motion for motor industry we know today.

Quite simply, the Benz Patent-Motorwagen was the world’s first ever production automobile, in the sense that it was the first vehicle propelled by an internal combustion engine which was to be produced for the masses.

The origins of Benz motorcar owed much to the wife of Karl, a lady know as Bertha, who with a hefty dowry financed the development of the vehicle. If she had paid for project today then perhaps we would have heard more about Bertha, but married women were unable to apply for patents in the 1880s.

It wasn’t just hard cash that Bertha Benz provided to the project. Understanding the need to better market the vehicle’s abilities, she took the vehicle on a long distance drive across Germany, with her two sons on board, and even acting as the car’s mechanic by using her hat pin to clean the carburetor and a garter to insulate wire. Bertha stopped at a local pharmacy on route to take on fuel, making it the first filling station in history and even asked a local shoemaker to nail leather onto the brake blocks, in the process inventing brake linings.

Bertha’s exploits are celebrated with a parade of antique motors along the route from Mannheim to Pforzheim every year.

Let’s not forget Karl Benz though, after developing the two-stroke piston engine in 1873, he set to work on developing a vehicle and achieved his goal with the Motorwagen. The first mass produced vehicle saw 25 vehicles produced between 1886 and 1893.

As for Benz, well we know that name today as Mercedes Benz, a company with humble beginnings which developed the world’s first production motor car and kick-started one of the biggest industries of modern times.