World's first car celebrates 120th birthday
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.
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