Not Your Ordinary Road Trip: Circa 1888

Discussion in 'Mercedes-Benz' started by xcel, Jul 1, 2013.

  1. xcel

    xcel PZEV, there's nothing like it :) Staff Member

    [​IMG] The first of its kind auto called Benz goes for a little drive.

    [​IMG]Wayne Gerdes - CleanMPG - June 30, 2013

    Early one August morning in 1888, a very determined lady set out on an adventure that would change the course of history.

    According to Mercedes, Bertha Benz, the wife of motor car inventor Carl Benz, embarked on the first ever long-distance journey in automotive history in a Benz Patent-Motorwagen Typ III (patent motor car type 3) accompanied by her two sons.

    The route led from Mannheim to Pforzheim, the birthplace of Bertha Benz. It was a 65.7 mile journey and as you can imagine in 1888, it was filled with challenges. The adventure drive paid off as the Patent-Motorwagen proved to be a perfectly suitable means of transport for longer journeys.

    This year, the Mercedes-Benz Museum is commemorating the 125th anniversary of the epic journey with Bertha Benz Days from August 2 - 4. Over three days, costume guided tours for both children and adults will focus on this automotive pioneer. Entrance is free on Sunday, 4 August 2013. The special program on this day also includes taxi rides with a replica of the Benz patent motor car and a story hour with Jutta Benz, the great-granddaughter of Bertha Benz.

    In addition, a commemorative drive from Mannheim to Pforzheim will take place from August 9 - 11 to mark the first ever long-distance journey in the world’s first motor car. It is being organized by the ASC classic car enthusiasts club and the Dr. Carl Benz car museum in the town of Ladenburg. These days, the long-distance journey is more of a historic tour staged as a regularity drive for vintage cars. The return journey to Mannheim also tracks the route taken in 1888.

    A secret test run

    Is this cool or what? The drive to Pforzheim provided proof of the Patent-Motorwagen’s capabilities. Afterwards, Bertha Benz encouraged husband Carl to publicize his invention. Carl Benz had filed a patent application in January 1886 for the Motorwagen he’d invented in 1885 and that had since evolved into the Type III. However, he had yet to demonstrate that his motor car worked reliably and could also cover long distances. Bertha Benz quickly resolved to provide the necessary evidence with her first ever automobile road trip.

    The mother of four told her husband nothing of her intentions to drive to her birthplace of Pforzheim to visit relatives with her sons Eugen and Richard. Her plan took shape when the school holidays began, and very early one morning the mother and her sons sneaked the latest version of the Patent-Motorwagen out of the workshop without Carl Benz suspecting a thing.

    They pushed the three-wheeled motor car for the first few yards as they didn’t want to start the 2.5 hp single-cylinder four-stroke engine until they were out of earshot of the house so as to not wake the inventor from his slumber. When Carl Benz later entered the kitchen, he would find a message telling him about the journey they had set out on to Pforzheim. Oh $*@%!

    The Test Drive

    The road trip was to become a highly successful test drive for the car as Bertha provided conclusive proof of the Patent-Motorwagen’s fundamental suitability as a means of transport and was furthermore able to pass on some important findings and pointers to her husband for future development. She suggested including an additional short gear for driving up hills instead of just the two-speed transmission used previously, as well as demanding better brakes.

    At the same time, Bertha also did some pioneering work when it came to defining the necessary constituent elements of an infrastructure system. For example, road vehicles would need filling stations. Therefore the Wiesloch municipal chemist’s became first filling station of the world. Highways would also have to be signposted – Bertha Benz had to carefully make her way from one place she knew to the next.

    The automotive pioneer and her sons skillfully remedied minor glitches, using her hat pin for example to clean a clogged fuel line. No major repair work was necessary, although the enterprising trio did decide to make the wooden block brakes more durable by having a cobbler nail leather patches to them to act as brake pads.

    Carl Benz’s family kept him informed of the journey’s progress by sending a series of telegrams en route. The drive from Mannheim to Pforzheim and back wasn’t just a watershed moment for his Patent-Motorwagen, but for the future of the motor car. Around 25 models of the Benz Patent-Motorwagen with various engines were built between 1886 and 1894, making it the first motor car of the world to be manufactured and sold in series.

    The memory of the world’s first long-distance journey by car is perpetuated by various outstanding events. In 1963, for example, exactly 75 years after that intrepid journey, the inaugural “Bertha Benz Drive” was staged along the Mannheim to Pforzheim route as a regularity drive for classic cars.

    The Patent-Motorwagen

    Carl Benz unveiled his Patent-Motorwagen in 1886. By 1894, a total of 25 had been built, with engine outputs varying between 1.5 and 3 horsepower. The original Patent-Motorwagen was the Type I. It had steel-spoked wheels as well as further design details that took their cue from state-of-the-art bicycle manufacture at that time. The modified Type II was also built initially as a three-wheeler, but was later converted to four wheels as an experiment. This vehicle, including the double-pivot steering that was tested out in it, represented a further major step towards the modern-day motor car. Presumably, only one was ever built. Finally, the Type III was the first motor car to be sold in small numbers, making it the world’s first ever production car. At the start, Carl Benz did not find it easy to market his Patent-Motorwagen, until the Frenchman Emile Roger from Paris took over as the sole agent for Benz vehicles and engines in France.

    The only Patent-Motorwagen Type III that still survives today found its way to England via Emile Roger, as certified by a badge on the vehicle itself. Some details assume that this could be the car that Bertha Benz used for her long-distance journey to Pforzheim. It is the oldest Benz Patent-Motorwagen preserved in its original condition, and is therefore the oldest original Benz motor car in existence. Today, the vehicle belongs to London’s Science Museum. At present the car is an exhibit in the Dr. Carl Benz Museum, Ladenburg.

    The Benz Patent-Motorwagen Type III

    Body: open three-wheeled vehicle
    Engine: single-cylinder four-stroke unit Displacement: 1,660 cc
    Output: 2.5 hp at 500 rpm
    Carburetor: Benz surface carburetor
    Valves: automatic intake valve, controlled exhaust valve
    Cooling: water/thermosyphon evaporation cooling
    Lubrication: drip-feed lubricator and grease cup Ignition: electrical high-voltage-buzzer ignition
    Fuel tank: 4.5 liters in the carburetor
    Starter: cranking the flywheel
    Power transmission: leather belt from engine to cone pulley, differential, 1 chain to each rear wheel
    Clutch: none
    Transmission: two-speed fixed pulley, 2 forward gears
    Gearshift: hand lever under steering crank for moving the belt between the pulleys
    Frame: steel frame Front suspension: front wheel in control fork with no springs
    Rear suspension: rigid axle, full-elliptic springs
    Steering: rack-and-pinion steering, steering crank in centre of vehicle
    Handbrake: wooden block brake/rear tires
    Footbrake: none
    Lubrication: grease cups
    Dimensions: 106.3 x 55.1 x 57.1 inches
    Wheelbase: 62 inches
    Track width: rear 49.2 inches
    Wheels: wooden spokes, diameter front 31.5 inches, rear 44.3 inches
    Tyres: front all-rubber or iron, rear iron
    Weight: 790 pounds
    Top speed: 10 mph
    Fuel consumption: approx. 25 miles/gallon of ligroin and no I do not know what ligroin is ;)

    Thanks Mercedes for this look back into automotive history. And Carl, your wife was kick @$$!
  2. rhwinger

    rhwinger Well-Known Member


    And I thought I was pushing the limits when I asked for a kitchen pass for our latest adventure?



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