Who was the first woman driver

Carl Benz Out into the world by motor vehicle


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At first, Carl Benz was only scorned and scorned for the "motor vehicle number 1". But it didn't take long before it became clear that his three-wheeled vehicle was a milestone in the history of technology.

Status: 04.08.2020 | archive

Motor car number 1 looks a little strange, because it consists mainly of bicycle parts. The vehicle has three wheels, the engine sits behind the wide bicycle seat, plus a small steering wheel and wooden tires with a rubber coating. The body weighs only 250 kilograms. Benz built three versions between 1885 and 1887. In 1906 he donated the first model to the Deutsches Museum in Munich, where it is now in the traffic center on Theresienhöhe. Bertha Benz undertakes her legendary trip to Pforzheim and back with model number 3 of the patented motor vehicle.

The world's first road trip

Contemporary depiction of Bertha Benz '"Tankstopp"

On August 5, 1888, Bertha Benz and her two sons Eugen and Richard Benz set out on their first overland trip in an automobile - without her husband's knowledge. The three-wheeled Benz motor car drove over a hundred kilometers from Mannheim to Pforzheim and back on bumpy roads. Halfway through, however, the travelers ran out of fuel. The city pharmacist of Wiesloch near Heidelberg sold them gasoline and thus became the first gas station attendant in history.
The trip proved that a car could cover longer distances. The success of the trip dispelled the doubts of potential buyers and contributed significantly to the economic rise of Carl Benz's company.

Patent specification for the motor car from 1886

Carl Benz was not deterred by the fact that many contemporaries dismiss his vehicle as "crazy" and "unnecessary nonsense". On January 29, 1886, Benz applied for a patent for his vehicle. This patent specification is now part of the UNESCO World Document Heritage - as a symbol of the mobile society.

Like Gottlieb Daimler, Benz, born in 1844, came from a humble background, but was able to study mechanical engineering at the Karlsruhe Polytechnic. After two jobs as a locksmith and designer, he started his own mechanical workshop and developed his vehicles. But business is bad, only his wife Bertha firmly believes in the success of his work.

Success in Munich and Paris

Front and rear view: Benz Dos-à-Dos in 1900

In 1888 the "power and work machine exhibition" takes place in Munich. There, Carl Benz demonstrates his automobile for two hours every day and receives the gold medal for the most outstanding innovation. In the following year he was able to present various models at the Paris World Exhibition. At the same time, French designers are launching their first vehicles on the market: the race for supremacy in automotive engineering has begun. The French are more open to the new types of vehicles than the Germans. They also have the better roads.

On the way to series production

Vehicle assembly at Benz in Mannheim around 1910

At the end of the 1880s, European high society discovered the new types of vehicles. At that time, cars were luxury products: a copy cost several thousand marks, several times the annual wage of a worker. The first automobile races are celebrated as major social events. In the Paris-Rouen race in 1894, vehicles with German engines were superior. For Benz this meant the breakthrough: by 1893 he was able to sell 69 vehicles, 54 of which went abroad, mainly to France. Five years later, Benz is about to expand its workshop into the largest automobile factory in the world. He has now sold 2,000 vehicles, and the annual production is 750 vehicles. But then competition from home emerged: Gottlieb Daimler brought the first Mercedes onto the market in 1900. The customers are enthusiastic and Benz stays seated on his cars.

Daimler and Benz become "Daimler-Benz"

Bertha Benz at the age of 95

But no sooner has the first Mercedes been delivered than Gottlieb Daimler, who had been suffering from heart problems for a long time, died at the age of 66. Karl-Friedrich Benz, ten years his junior, retired from active professional life in 1903. With his two sons Richard and Eugen, who are now also engineers, he founds the company "Karl Benz Söhne", which continues to produce automobiles. Bertha Benz outlived them All When the international competition in production grew, the Benz brothers merged their company, now called "Benz & Cie. Gasmotorenfabrik", with the "Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft" to form "Daimler-Benz" in 1926 -AG ". Three years later, on April 4, 1929, Carl Benz died at the age of 85 in Ladenburg near Heidelberg. His wife Bertha, the world's first female car driver, outlived all automobile pioneers by decades: she died in 1944 at the age of 95.

  • Carl Benz, Gottlieb Daimler and the automobile: on March 31, 2017 at 6 p.m. in "Milestones in Science and Technology", ARD alpha
  • Carl and Bertha. TV film, December 12, 2016 at 12 noon, BR TV
  • Benz files a car patent. Nine to nine, Bayern 1, January 29, 2012, 8:51 am