1886 Benz Motor Car, known as a Benz Patent Motorwagen

Although various pioneers had attempted to build a car, this three-wheeler, designed and built by Karl Benz, is the first patented motorcar. It was neither a horseless carriage nor an experimental vehicle because it was designed as an automobile from the outset and was on general sale. The single-cylinder internal combustion engine was started by tugging the large horizontal flywheel at the rear.

This Benz Patent Motor Car was to make the first long-distance journey in the world, driven by Karl Benz’s wife Bertha. She did this without her husband’s consent, which was very unusual at the time. In 1888 Mrs Benz and her two sons left their home in Mannheim and made the historic, 194 km round trip to Pforzheim to visit relatives.

It has become an almost legendary story that Mrs Benz ran out of fuel during her long trip and bought some dry-cleaning fluid at a chemist’s shop, which allowed her to complete her journey. She was also ingenious from a technical point of view: she repaired the ignition with a garter and cleared a blocked fuel pipe with her hatpin. She had the leather brake pads repaired at a cobbler’s.

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