• Celebrity Special – Celebrating The Life of Karl Benz

A quick look at the father of the gasoline-powered automobile

On this day in 1844, 173 years ago, Karl Benz was born in the German town of Muhlburg. The son of a locomotive driver, Karl’s father died of pneumonia when he was just two years old, and despite being poor, Karl’s mother, Josephine Vaillant, was intent on giving her son a proper education. Showing great academic promise, young Karl went on to study at the University of Karlsruhe, or as it was known then, Polytechnische Schule (“Polytechnic School”). By the age of 15, Karl began his studies in mechanical engineering, graduating four years later.

After plying his trade in a variety of different jobs, Karl ended up purchasing a new factory with his fiancée, Bertha Ringer, and began to develop new engines and patents to help pay the bills. In 1878, Karl created a new, reliable two-stroke engine, after which the engineering mastermind was awarded several more patents for such critically important inventions as a new spark plug, carburetor, clutch, and water radiator.

By the 1880s, Benz began to work in earnest towards his lifelong obsession, the horseless carriage, and by 1885, he had created the Benz Patent Motorwagen. Inspired by bicycle design, the Motorwagen had a trio of wire-wheels, a tubular steel frame, rack-and-pinion steering, and a Benz-designed four-stroke engine fired by advanced coil ignition. The modern automobile was born. Several improvements were made, eventually leading to the S-Classes and AMG GTs we know and love today.

Now go celebrate properly by laying down a smoky burnout.


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Jonathan Lopez
Jonathan Lopez
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