Biography Carl Benz

Carl (Karl) Benz inventor and manufacturer of the first motorized car.

Born: Baden Muehlburg, Germany, in 1844.
Died: April 4, 1929.
Married: Bertha Ringer 1972, they had 5 children.
Occupation: Engineer/Inventor

I suppose we can blame all the automobile pollution we are suffering from today on Carl Benz; the man who designed the three-wheeler auto acknowledged as the first motorized car in the world. Plus he is credited with patenting the first gas powered and mass marketed automobile to the world. He built and designed the world’s first practical auto powered by an internal combustion engine and received the first patent for a gas-fueled car in 1886.

He grew up in a poor home after his engineer father died when he was only two year sold. Carl’s mother knew he should have an education to succeed in life and she made it so. He was a good student who earned his way into Lyzeum and the Poly-Technical University. Young Carl was a good student and fortunate to study under Ferdinand Redtenbacher, while at the University. In 1864, at age 19 he graduated from University of Karlruhle and entered a 2 year internship as a mechanical engineer, following in his father’s career path. After 4 years working as a mechanical engineer with a construction company and iron construction business he left to start his own business.

He started his own company, in 1871 with partner August Ritter “Iron Foundry and Machine Shop”, which supplied building materials. Carl was a visionary inventor, but a dismal businessman and almost lost everything, but his fianc had unwavering faith in him and his inventions. Because of her dowry he was able to buy out his business partner and pursue making his vision of a gasoline “motor carriage” come true as he struggled to make his business provide a living for his family (his wife took over management of the business). After business hours he kept building new proto-types until he developed and patented his two-stroke engine with a battery ignition.

He received his first patent in 1879. Then in 1883(with 2 new partners), he founded Benz & Company in Mannheim, Germany, which produced industrial engines. The company became financially successful, so Carl Benz turned his interest back to building a motorized vehicle. In 1885, he developed the Benz 3-wheeler with its water cooled gas engine. A patent (Patent 37 435) was issued for his new vehicle the “Benz patent Motor Car” in 1886. It was an interesting vehicle with 3 wheels and wooden wheel spokes. He started selling his auto to the public, in July 1886, but people thought it an odd “motor cart” because it only had 3 wheels and sales were very slow.

Then after a strange Benz family event, that went public, people began to get interested. Bertha Benz with her 2 sons took a joy ride’ in the vehicle, by themselves driving from Mannheim to Pforxheim some 65 miles away. She telegraphed her husband telling him where they were after they arrived safe and sound. Her day trip made history and she and her sons became the first people to complete a “long distance trip” in a motorized car. People were captivated by the story and started buying the vehicle.

Success took over his life and the company soon prospered (after Bertha’s infamous journey), which meant moving to a new larger factory in order to fulfill engine orders.

Then in 1894, Carl Benz created the Benz Velo, a 4 wheeled vehicle which was the 1st inexpensive, mass-produced car that saw 1,200 cars produced for sale. When the turn of the century came, Benz & Company was the world’s number one auto manufacturer.

Upon his retirement from Benz & Co. he helped his sons (Eugen and Richard) begin “Carl Benz Sohne” and produced vehicles which soon developed a great reputation throughout Europe. They were often used as taxis because of their reliability. The last vehicle rolled out of the factory in 1923.

The Benz company eventually merged with rival manufacturer Daimler and became Daimler-Benz, which everyone knows today as Mercedes-Benz. [Supposedly the name “Mercedes” came from a Daimler business partner’s daughter’s name].

Carl Benz the great inventor that designed a four-stroke engine for a “motor carriage’, created a vehicle with electric ignition, developed differential gears and water-cooling would probably have not succeeded except for his devoted wife’s financial and personal support. In tribute to her he wrote:

“In those days when our little boat of life threatened to capsize, only one person stood steadfastly by me, my wife. She bravely set new sails of hope” Karl Benz

What a team they made!