22.03.2015 |

Episode #7 of the course “Inventions that changed the world and their stories”

Who invented the car? This notion is a contested matter. Most people do not know that the Benz Motor Car No. 1 predates the Ford Model T car. Karl Benz patented the three-wheeled car in 1886 as the first modern automobile. Benz built a car company that still exists today as the Daimler Group.

Benz created the gasoline-powered car, but Leonardo da Vinci drew a cart with no horses in the 1500s. In the 1830s, Robert Anderson invented the battery-powered carriage, with a small electric motor. The vehicles were heavy, costly, and constantly needed recharged, so they were later abandoned for gasoline power. Karl Benz was famous for inventing a practical gasoline-powered automobile with an internal combustion engine.

Benz was born in 1844 in Karlsruhe, a city in southwest Germany. Even in poverty, Benz’s mother made sure he got an education. He attended the University of Karlsruhe and graduated in 1864 with a mechanical engineering degree.

Benz’s first business venture was a failure. But when he married Bertha Ringer, he used her dowry to run a gas engine factory. With the profits, Benz attempted to build a gas-powered carriage.

Benz built three prototypes of his motor car by 1888. Bertha decided it was time to go public, so she drove the latest model with her sons 66 miles to her mother’s house. She improvised repairs on the way there using her garter, shoe leather, and hairpins.

After the trip, Benz improved the car, and the skeptical public saw the use of automobiles. Benz showcased the Model 3 Motorwagen at the World’s Fair in Paris that next year. Benz died in 1929, just two years after merging with car-maker Gottlieb Daimler to form the Daimler group that currently sells the Mercedes-Benz.


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