In November 1844, a pioneer was born in Mühlburg, in the lovely Black Forest, whose patent now dominates our streetscape: Carl Friedrich Benz. As a graduate mechanical engineer, he’s one of the most important industrial engineers in the history of the global economy, who in 1885, created the first ever motor car: the Benz Patent Motor Car No. 1, a single-cylinder four-stroke engine for driving a three-wheeled carriage. Shown at the 1889 World Exhibition in Paris, Benz was awarded an international patent for his motor car, and in 1926, his company merged with the Daimler-Motoren Aktiengesellschaft to form Daimler Benz AG.
As the son of locomotive driver George and his wife Josefine, Carl Benz attended the scientifically oriented Lyceum in Karlsruhe after finishing secondary school. As a graduate mechanical engineer, he began his professional career as a locksmith, and in 1871, founded a iron foundry for industrial components. Following his vision – to create a self-powered vehicle – Benz continued to develop his idea further, resulting in the advancement of the existing four-stroke engine invented by Nikolaus August Otto. As the previous engines were too heavy for a carriage, installing a one-cylinder four-stroke petrol engine with electric ignition, water cooling and surface carburettor in a three-wheeled wooden carriage was revolutionary: engine and chassis were united (and in the same year, Wilhelm Maybach built the first ever motorcycle).
Of course, the road from idea to realisation was often stony and fraught with many hurdles, which Benz was able to consciously overcome time and time again. His wife Bertha believed in him all her life and supported her husband in what he did – from today’s perspective, it’s hard to believe the cornerstones that ultimately led to what’s now part of our everyday life: the car. And we are proud to mention here again: the “inventor” of this international sensation comes from the beautiful Black Forest. A story from the Black Forest – known all over the world.