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Karl Benz

Karl BenzKarl Benz Cars did not become a practical way to travel until petrol engines were invented in the 1880s. In 1885, the German engineer Karl Benz (1848–1929) successfully fitted a single-cylinder petrol engine to a three-wheeled tricycle. His success as a manager of a company producing industrial engines gave him the opportunity to work on his favourite hobby: the invention of a "horseless carriage": a wheeled vehicle powered not by horses but by an engine. In 1888, Benz’s wife, Bertha, took the car he had designed and built on a 100-kilometre (60-mile) drive to visit relatives, and so became the first person to undertake a long journey by car.

Benz's MotorwagenBenz's Motorwagen

Benz's 1885 carBenz's 1885 car

First car

In 1879, Benz was granted a patent for a two-stroke internal combustion engine he had invented. By 1885, he had designed a four-stroke engine, and added both an electrical ignition and a water-cooling system. The engine was fixed under the seat of a tricycle. The rear wheels were connected to it by belts and bicycle chains. The completed vehicle, called the Motorwagen, could reach speeds of 15 km/h (9 mph). To begin with, Benz's new car lurched dangerously around the streets of Mannheim, but a smooth ride was soon achieved. Patented in January 1886, it was the first automobile to generate its own power.

A copy of the engine Benz used for his 1885 carA copy of the engine Benz used for his 1885 car

The original version of Benz's Motorwagen had no gears and could not climb hills by itself. After Bertha Benz's first journey in it, gears were added.

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