In 1886, Carl Benz submitted the patent for his motor car at the Imperial Patent Office in Berlin. This invention is considered to be the birth of the automobile. It has changed and formed individual mobility worldwide to this day. UNESCO is keeping a record of this symbol of mobile society by its admission of the Benz Patent into UNESCO’s “Memory of the World” International Documentary Heritage Register.
The UNESCO world documentary heritage program, “Memory of the World,” is a working program with the help of which it is planned to create a worldwide digital network of selected outstanding documents. They include valuable stocks of books, manuscripts, scores, and other unique items, documentary photos, films and sound recordings, as well as documents bearing testimony to decisive cultural, political and technical events. Some 100 UNESCO member states work together in the program, launched in 1992. The aim is to ensure free access to culturally and historically important documents and preserve the documentary heritage from destruction and oblivion.
Every two years the participating countries can propose documents for inclusion in the UNESCO Register. Joint nominations by several countries also are possible. The condition is a scientific explanation why the proposed document possesses uniqueness and worldwide significance due to its influence on art, politics and society.
An international committee discusses the submitted proposals. The acting UNESCO Director-General then decides which documents are inscribed in the Register. The institution which holds a document included in the Register must undertake to make the document freely accessible to the public and permanently ensure its preservation. Currently the Register encompasses 238 documents from all over the world, including for example the 21 Theses of Solidarnosc, the Archives of the Warsaw Ghetto and the Gutenberg Bible.
On January 29, 1886, Carl Benz submitted the patent for a three-wheeled vehicle with gas engine to the Imperial Patent Office in Berlin. It had the number “DRP 37435”. The patent specification for the world’s first vehicle with an internal combustion engine and electric ignition is regarded today as the birth certificate of the automobile. The text of the patent specification begins with the words: “The present construction is intended mainly for the operation of light carts and small boats, such as are used to transport one to four persons.… The driving power is provided by a small gas engine, of any system. The latter is supplied with its gas from an accompanying apparatus, in which gas is made from ligroin or some other gasifying substance. The engine cylinder is kept at a steady temperature by the evaporation of water.” The filing of the patent in France followed on 25 March of the same year. Prof. Dr. Hartwig Lüdtke, member of the German nominations committee of Memory of the World, stresses the importance which the document still possesses today: “The Benz bundle of documents possesses global relevance and symbolizes the origin of our present-day mobile society.”
Benz pursued an integrated approach in developing the Patent Motor Car: the engine, the chassis and the drive components were exactly matched to each other and formed a single unit. Around 125 years ago, Carl Benz filed a patent for the motor car. The Benz Patent Motor Car had its first public drive on July 3, 1886, on the Ringstrasse in Mannheim. Unlike his competitors, Benz pursued an integrated approach in developing the Patent Motor Car: the engine, the chassis and the drive components were exactly matched to each other and formed a single unit. The engine, weighing about 100 kilograms, was very light by the standards of the period. The horizontal single-cylinder four-stroke engine had a displacement of 954 cubic centimetres and developed an output of 0.55 kW at an engine speed of 400 rpm. And yet it had all the essential details still to be found today in most internal combustion engines: crankshaft with counterweights, electric ignition and water cooling. Other features included a cylinder with open crankcase, an intake slide valve controlled by an eccentric rod, and a poppet exhaust valve actuated by a cam disk, rocker arm and pushrod.
The surface carburetor developed by Benz, containing a 4.5 litre supply of gasoline, served mixture preparation. To cover a distance of 100 kilometres the Patent Motor Car needed about ten litres of gasoline. The chassis of the Patent Motor Car was made of bent and welded steel tube.
Benz designed the vehicle with rear-wheel drive. The vehicle was steered by means of the front wheel, which was suspended in an unsprung fork and could be steered by a toothed rack connected with a crank. A multispeed transmission, foot brake and reverse gear were not yet incorporated into the Patent Motor Car. The driving speed could be controlled by means of a sleeve valve underneath the driver's seat. The brake was a hand lever acting on the countershaft belt pulley.
Carl Benz in his first Model I patent motor car from 1886, taken in Munich in 1925.
The Benz Patent Motor Car – the world’s first automobile – was a sensation. Introduced in 1886 with an output of barely one horsepower, it changed human mobility for ever. At the time, only true pioneers could contemplate the switch from four legs to three wheels. Today, five generations on, Carl Benz’ stroke of genius is for sale once again, this time in replica-model form. Built by the people who still bear not only his name but also his aspirations: Mercedes-Benz.
Over 125 years old and still as revolutionary as it was on the day it was born. What began as the vision of an all-new, stand-alone vehicle model is the reason why we now all reach our destinations more quickly. Carl Benz’ ingenious development of a small, light internal combustion engine moved a car seemingly on its own for the first time in the history of humankind. The first automobile – and a completely new notion of what it means to be on the road – is down to the legendary resolve of this exceptional inventor.
You mount the car rather than getting into it. The finest leather, lovingly hand-stitched, invites you to lean back. A combination of sculpted iron and wood makes the cockpit a delight for purists. At one metre high, the wire-spoke wheels with solid rubber tyres really catch the eye. For all the innovative technology, the appointments are limited to the bare essentials: the only place to put a hat is on the head of the driver or passenger.
The Benz Patent Motor Car is one-hundred percent hand-made: each part is produced and installed by hand, making each supplied model a unique entity. Cars built with this much devotion deserve at least as much attention when it comes to maintenance, especially since some of the components need to be checked and serviced regularly. Rest assured that you can entrust these tasks to the Mercedes-Benz Classic experts. We take all the time in the world to ensure that your new, “old” car remains as pristine as it is on day one.
legendary machine with moderate consumption figures: the most surprising feature of the extremely lightweight V1 internal combustion engine is its large, horizontal flywheel. At the heart of the Patent Motor Car is a fast-running, water-cooled, 1-cylinder, 4-stroke internal combustion engine developed by Carl Benz. It is installed horizontally at the rear of the car, develops 0.55 kW at 400 rpm and has a displacement of 0.95 litres (bore 90 mm x stroke 150 mm). There are many fascinating aspects to this engine, among them the controlled intake slide valve, the controlled exhaust valve, the electric ignition – including spark plug, Ruhmkorff spark inductor and battery – and the evaporation cooling system with water tank above the engine.
Benz surface carburettor is used for mixture preparation, while the 4.5-litre fuel tank is located above the carburettor. This drive system was good for a speed of up to 16 km/h. And the fuel consumption of around ten litres per 100 kilometres was equally impressive, even by today’s standards. Further prominent features include the large flywheel which is mounted horizontally and supported by a wooden frame cross member. At the upper end of the crankshaft, there is a bevel crown wheel which links the drive components via a side shaft.
Prime mover for the world’s first car: The engine of the Benz Patent Motor Car, model no. 1 (1886).
The first steering system with a direct link to the road. The first continuously variable automatic transmission. And the first car able to stop more quickly than any horse thanks to a brake. In short, a unique vehicle. The Benz Patent Motor Car has rear-wheel drive provided by a chain on either side of the side shaft. A rigid axle and fully elliptic springs connect the rear wheels to the tubular steel frame. Optimum transmission of the engine power is assured by an idler pulley and a gear in the form of a fixed drive pulley with integrated differential. Thanks to the idler pulley, the flat leather belt linking the engine and side shaft also serves as a clutch.
Had there been a driver’s manual in 1886, it probably would have read something like this: to start the engine, vigorously turn the flywheel at the rear, having already activated the ignition using the switch under the seat and regulated the air supply for the engine using the hand wheel. Actuating the gear lever moves the belt from the idler pulley to the drive pulley for starting off; this lever can be used to control starting off, the vehicle speed (lever forwards) and the brake (lever backwards). Finally, the toothed-rack steering for the single front wheel is actuated from an unusually high position using a centrally positioned vertical crank in front of the seat bench.
Bertha Benz with her sons Eugen and Richard during the long-distance journey from Mannheim to Pforzheim with the Benz Patent Motor Car in 1888.
Open-air enjoyment in its purest form: there isn’t even a roof. All the more room for elegant appointments. There is exceptional craftsmanship wherever you look – from the elegantly contoured armrests and the comfortable leather upholstery to the ergonomically shaped wooden handle for the steering. The lever mounted on the left-hand side, which serves as both a gear stick and a handbrake, was used to defuse what were then critical driving situations and effectively slow the forward motion. But there’s no need to worry: if you leave your model as it is, it’s not likely to meet any dangerous obstacles.
Like the front wire-spoke wheel, the two driven wirespoke wheels at the rear have solid rubber tyres. While the front wheel runs in a ball bearing, the two rear wheels have white alloy bushings. The Patent Motor Car has a wheelbase of 1450 mm and a track width of 1190 mm.