We are proud of being named after Carl Benz. Carl Benz invented the first automobile.
Carl Benz was born in 1844 in Karlsruhe, Baden, Germany. Despite the limited means of his family, his mother insisted upon providing him with a good technical education. Being a diligent student, Benz passed the entrance exam to study mechanical engineering at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, formerly University of Karlsruhe, formerly Polytechnic College. At the tender age of fifteen he came under the instruction of Ferdinand Redtenbacher and graduated on 9 July 1864, with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. During his years at the university he had already started to envision concepts for a vehicle that would eventually become the horseless carriage.
Benz and his first Inventions
In 1871, at the age of 27, Carl Benz joined a mechanical workshop in Mannheim. Early business misfortunes did not prevent Carl Benz from developing new types of engines and from patenting key engine components. These patents, among them the patent for the first internal combustion engine (granted in 1879), soon led to substantial revenue increases and helped to subsidize the workshop business. Carl Benz’ true genius became obvious thanks to his successive inventions, registered whilst designing what would become the production standard for his two-stroke engine. During this time he patented the speed regulation system, the ignition using sparks with a battery, the spark plug, the carburetor, the clutch, the gear shift, and the water radiator.
Benz and the Motorwagen
In 1887, after years of testing and modifications, Benz created the first definitive commercial vehicle, the Model 3, an automobile with a four-stroke engine of his own design between the rear wheels. It was gasoline powered, the power being transmitted by means of two roller chains to the rear axle with wooden wheels. This became the first production automobile. The model 3 was introduced at the 1889 World’s Fair in Paris with the result that it was rapidly promoted on a wider international scale.
In 1896, Carl Benz was granted a patent for his design of the first boxer engine with horizontally opposed pistons. His design created an engine in which the corresponding pistons reach top dead centre simultaneously, thus balancing each other with respect to momentum. Flat engines with four or fewer cylinders are most commonly boxer engines. This continues to be the design principle for high performance racing car engines such as those used by Porsche. The great demand for internal combustion engines increased the size of, and indeed, completely transformed the Benz & Cie. automobile company. By 1899 it had become the largest of its kind in the world, increasing employment from 50 (1890) to 430 (1899) workers and producing 572 automobiles per year.
While Benz was designing his boxer engine, Gottlieb Daimler and his lifelong partner Wilhelm Maybach, two gifted inventors in Stuttgart, were dreaming of creating small, high speed engines to be mounted in any kind of self-propelled vehicle. In 1885 they patented a precursor of the modern petrol engine, which they subsequently fitted to a two-wheeler considered to be the first motorcycle and, in the next year, to a stagecoach and a boat. Later, in 1890, they founded Daimler Motors (DMG). The first automobile originating from their design was sold in 1892. Although Gottlieb Daimler died in 1900 — and there is no evidence that Carl Benz and Gottlieb Daimler knew each other, nor that they knew about each other‘s early achievements — eventually, competition with Daimler Motors (DMG) in Stuttgart began to challenge the leadership of Benz & Cie. in Mannheim.