As Mercedes-Benz celebrates its 125th anniversary, the automotive world as a whole should take the time to step back and look at its roots. With the technological wonders that roll out of a Mercedes factory day to day it would be hard for any of us to fully understand a time when a short trip into town would be a true journey. A horse and buggy, as well as the Railroad reigned supreme before the turn of the century and Karl Benz was about to change everything. The brilliance of an aspiring inventor and the realization of a dream led to the creation of the first automobile.
The mating of the internal combustion engine to a chassis built from the ground up was the basic formula for creating an automobile. New creations beyond the engine itself and obstacles that were not able to be overcome in the initial product - both came together to become the Benz Patent-Motorwagen.
Mercedes corporate has been celebrating in style, “Exactly 125 years to the day after Carl Benz registered his “vehicle with gas-engine drive” in 1886, Daimler AG has celebrated the anniversary of the automobile. Approximately 1,400 invited guests were hosted by the inventor of the automobile at the Mercedes-Benz World in Stuttgart, with guests of honor including the German Federal Chancellor, Dr. Angela Merkel.”
Hit the jump for more details on the 1886 Benz Patent-Motorwagen.
Karl Benz’s mother may be the woman who deserves the most praise when it comes to the invention of the automobile. She saved much of the families money in order to send Karl to school at Polytechnic which is where he learned about mathematics and the steam engine. Karl once said, “The love of inventing never dies” and this attitude helped him dream up a gas powered car.
After several stints with differing careers centered on machine building, Benz was able to take the time to focus on an engine for his idea. Nikolaus Otto had created the four-stroke gas engine and patented his creation thus making it hard for Benz to utilize in his machine. Instead of giving up, Karl Benz began to work on the two-stroke internal combustion engine which requires a mix of gasoline and oil to run. Eventually Benz had developed a working engine, but also got a break because Otto’s patent had expired and he could now use a four-stroke model.
In the end he had created a small 954 cc single-cylinder four-stroke engine producing 2/3hp at 250rpm. With speed being an afterthought, the only task for the engine was to get the wheels turning. The engine also utilized several ideas that are still used today. The electric battery, spark plugs, and a coil ignition all helped the engine to become a legend.
Since the engine was in its infancy, getting gasoline into the cylinders for combustion was no small feat. A drip oil system that poured fuel over fibers allowing the gasoline to evaporate and travel into the cylinders was the method of choice. Benz also incorporated a horizontal flywheel to help stabilize the car and provide better weight distribution. Power made its way from the engine to the rear wheel through what was basically two bicycle chains turning sprockets on each wheel.
More than just taking a horse driven wagon and slapping a motor onto it, Benz designed his specifically for this application. A steel tube chassis was designed for the frame and the rear wheels even utilized elliptical springs as suspension. This system allowed the car to be more stable and absorb some feedback from the road, but with pneumatic tires still years away from development, the solid rubber lined wheels made every imperfection felt.
Not only did Karl Benz invent the first automobile, but he was also involved in the first automobile accident. Driving the Motor-wagen for the first time, Benz was not in control of the steering and crashed into the gate near his factory. This did not faze him for long as the car was introduced to the public on July 3, 1886 in Mannheim.
With Benz having put the finishing touches on his initial dream it did not take him long to move to his next projects which included four-wheel cars. Patent number 37435 will live on in Mercedes lore as the one that started it all. As we all know, the company has gone on to create many memorable cars, develop integral parts for many companies on land, sea, and air, and live on in automotive history as one of the most successful brands to ever be.