World's First Car Celebrates 120th Birthday

Mercedes-Benz Pioneer Invented Motor Car That Changed Everything

Jan 13, 2006, 00:00 ET from Mercedes-Benz USA

    MONTVALE, N.J., Jan. 13 /PRNewswire/ -- The automobile celebrates its
 120th birthday on January 29. On this date in 1886, Karl Benz applied for a
 patent for his "vehicle with gas engine operation." Patent DRP 37435 for the
 Benz Patent Motor Car granted in November of the same year is regarded as the
 birth certificate of the automobile. In later years the Benz organization and
 the company formed by fellow automotive pioneer Gottlieb Daimler would merge
 to form Daimler-Benz. Karl Benz is, therefore, credited as co-founder not only
 of Mercedes-Benz but also the automotive industry itself.
     Seven months after Benz filed his patent for the automobile, Daimler with
 his master engineer Wilhelm Maybach attached his Daimler engine to a
 four-wheeled coach producing the first "horseless" carriage. Following
 Daimler's death in 1900, his largest distributor, Emil Jellinek, asked Maybach
 to design a car more advanced than any other; it will be named for Jellinek's
 daughter, Mercedes. The resulting Mercedes of 1901 defined the car as we
 essentially know it today.
     Unlike other inventors, Benz did not merely install an internal combustion
 engine into an existing coach chassis.  His design extended to the entire
 vehicle:  it was quite clear to him that a vehicle powered by an internal
 combustion engine was subject to engineering principles quite different from
 those applying to a horse-drawn carriage.
     Benz created innovative technology with classic engineering methods: a
 small horizontal, single-cylinder four-stroke engine running on gasoline,
 electric ignition, carburetor, water-cooled radiator, steering and tubular
 frame. With these features, the first motor car came into being in 1886. The
 vehicle was an absolute original. All automobiles produced since that time
 stand as heirs of the Patent Motor Car.
     The rest of the Patent Motor Car story belongs to history.  Three vehicles
 were completed by 1888.  One of them was secretly taken out by Bertha Benz,
 the inventor's wife, who drove it with her sons 53 miles from Mannheim to
 Pforzheim.  Thus Bertha Benz became the "first woman driver."  The journey
 gained much publicity for the vehicle, and Benz sold a number of cars to
 customers as a result.
     A four-wheeled vehicle, the Benz "Victoria," followed in 1893.  This again
 incorporated numerous innovations, including double-pivot steering, which is
 still employed in today's automobiles.  And so it continues:  with each new
 vehicle, the automobile improves just that much more -- to this very day with
 the introduction of the 2007 Mercedes-Benz S-Class which exemplifies the
 essence of generations of innovative technology from Mercedes-Benz, the
 world's first car company.
     In addition to the original patent for the automobile, further
 Mercedes-Benz "firsts" include:  development of the safety car body with rigid
 passenger cell and front and rear crumple zones (1951); electronic anti-lock
 brake system "ABS" (1978); and Electronic Stability Program "ESP" (1995).
     About Mercedes-Benz USA
     Mercedes-Benz USA (MBUSA), headquartered in Montvale, New Jersey, is
 responsible for the sales, marketing and service of all Mercedes-Benz and
 Maybach products in the United States.  In 2005, MBUSA achieved an all-time
 sales record of 224,421 new vehicles, setting the highest sales volume ever in
 its history and achieving 12 consecutive years of sales growth.  More
 information on MBUSA and its products can be found on the Internet at and .

SOURCE Mercedes-Benz USA