Go Mercedes.com is designed for the classic performance Mercedes enthusiast and collector. We explore the exciting history of the Mercedes-Benz and also go on adventures selecting performance classic Mercedes throughout the country.
We are just as passionate about the Mercedes Benz brand as you are! Everyone on our team at GoMercedes.com are long time Mercedes affecianados, collectors or restorers.
Mercedes collectors are inspired by a fierce loyalty. It’s hard to narrow it down to exactly which qualities of the classic Mercedes cause us to be so obsessed. The older Mercedes of the past have that certain panache that seem unbeatable in the classic collector market.
When pressed to explain why we just have to have yet another Mercedes; it can be slightly hard to rationalize to family members. Any hesitation is thrown to the wind though when we focus our sights on a potential rare acquisition just a few hundred miles away. It seems when one gets the “Mercedes Bends” as they say, we can’t help ourselves. Perhaps it is the impeccable engineering or absolute perfection in design that draws us in with unbridled enthusiasm. The extreme attention to detail that Mercedes stylists and car builders of days gone by just seems to outshine other makes produced today.
“Best in class engineering” is the Mercedes brand mantra. Stellar performance through perfection stems from perhaps the founding pioneers themselves Benz and Dailmer. Even Emil Jelinek drove the Dailmer company nearly berserk with his obsession for speed and perfection. Both of whom poured their savings and souls into their life’s work.
In curious synchronicity both men toiled a mere 60 miles away from one another in Germany in 1888 on their own internal combustion engines. Unbeknownst to each other their engineering efforts would literally propel the automotive world into the next century.
Excitement was in the air for Carl Benz on New Year’s Eve of 1879 . On that evening he heard the first sounds of his two stroke engine sputter to life for the very first time. For his newly developed Benz Patent Motor Car, in 1886 he was granted patent No. 37435 widely considered to be the official “birth certificate of the automobile.”
Benz officially unveiled his invention to the public on July 3rd, 1886, on the Ringstrasse (Ringstraße) in Mannheim. About 25 Patent Motorwagens were built between 1886 and 1893. The original cost of the vehicle in 1885 was $1,000 (equivalent to $26,248 in 2015).
1886 Benz Motorwagen
Closeup of Drawings of the Very First Automobile Patent Developed by Carl Benz
Benz Patent Motor Car, in 1886, Patent No. 37435
Carl Benz (left) seated in the Benz Patent Motorwagen
Bertha Benz and her two sons with the Patent-Motorwagen in 1888.
Bertha Benz – Financier and First Distance Driver of the Patent Motorwagen
The world owes a debt of gratitude to Carl Benz’s wife Bertha Ringer Benz. Benz later wrote in his memoirs after his marriage on July 20, 1872: “With this step, an idealist is at my side who knows what she wants, from the small and narrow to the grand, clear and vast.”
Supporting all her husband’s activities and sharing his pioneering spirit, Bertha Benz turns out to be a key factor in the success of Carl Benz. A longtime financial supporter of Carl even before marriage, she helped save him many times from financial ruin. She helped to save an iron construction company he had jointly held with an untrustworthy business partner. Eventually that company went down, but Bertha stepped up again with financial support and provided her considerable business acumen to help him form another manufacturing company called Benz & Cie. Through lean times, Bertha was always at the ready and provided enough financial support that Carl was able to start his dream work of creating a motorized vehicle.
Carl finished his work on his first horseless carriage in December 1885 (he received a patent for it the following year). The single-cylinder, 2.5-horsepower car had three wheels—one in front and two in the back—and could reach a maximum speed of 25 mph.
Carl was apparently not a very good marketer. In fact his first demostration terrified spectators as the driver lost control of the vehicle and crashed into a wall. A notorious perfectionist he retreated from the public eye, and although he had already developed two of the machines, was starting on a third. He just didn’t seem to have quite the confidence to showcase his new inventions to the public.
Bertha understood the dilemma and was becoming somewhat frustrated by Carl’s inability to act on his own. She also noted that there was increasing pressure from a competitor, Gottlieb Daimler who had invented a horseless carriage of his own— the world’s first four-wheeled, high-speed automobile just a few miles away.
Bertha was a very smart woman who knew the power of marketing. She instinctively knew that a long trip with the car would gather much attention from the public along the way. She knew the publicity would help popularize Carl Benz’s latest invention—and likely saved him from professional and financial ruin.
Bertha (Ringer) Benz – Driver and Mechanic for First Long Distance Automobile Trip
So in early August of 1888, at age 39, Bertha penned a note telling her husband she was going to drive to her mother’s house. She gathered her two teenage sons and climbed aboard the third Patent-Motorwagen vehicles her husband had assembled. One can only imagine their excitement as the three drove from Mannheim through Heidelberg, and Wiesloch. Just as anticipated, curious spectators gathered for miles to see the three driving about the countryside. No doubt it was quite a bewildering sight to see the first motorized vehicle rattling on byy. Amazing as that was, the fact that the vehicle was being driven by a woman must of been absolutely astounding.
The trip was in fact really no joy ride. Bertha Benz was not only the driver, but also improvised as an ever resourceful mechanic. Along the way a number of difficulties were faced. An ignition wire short circuited. Bertha actually used her garter to repair it. When a fuel pipe got clogged, she used her hat pin to clean it out. In addition, she was able to convince a blacksmith along the way to help mend a chain that had broken. The car didn’t have a fuel tank so she carefully manuevered the car to towns with apothecaries that sold a petroleum based cleaning fluid called ligroin. She put it into the carburetor to keep it running through the journey. She also had to stop often for water to in order to cool down the engine. The boys came in handy when the car needed pushing which was probably quite often. If that wasn’t enough when the brakes began to wear down (basically just pieces of wood) the ever resourceful Mrs. Benz stopped at a local shoemaker to have them nail leather on the brake blocks. So one can also say she actually was one of the first to invent brake pads as well.
Bertha Benz – Financier, Adventurer and Integral to the Success of the Benz Motorwagen
Another plus came from Bertha’s trip. Since she and her sons had quite a time going up hills with a 2.5 horse powered car, often resorting to manually pushing the car uphill. Those difficulties convinced the inventor to make a crucial modification – the introduction of the world’s first gear system.
An Awesome Sight of the Motorwagen
The Motorwagen was a light three-wheeled vehicle, powered by a single-cylinder gasoline engine that got about 25 mpg. Bertha went the entire distance of about 65 miles in about 12 hours. Around dusk she managed to pull into her hometown of Pforzheim. She immediately sent a telegram to her husband that she had arrived safely at her mother’s home. She spent the night at her mother’s house and returned home three days later. Again another brilliant move on her part, she chose another route and gathered even more spectators who were fascinated by the vehicle. The trip covered 194 km (121 mi) in total.
By the time she returned home, eyewitness accounts were pouring in from the trip. The news was rushed into print in local newspapers. With Bertha providing a real living proof of concept, Karl immediately rushed one of his other models to a scientific exhibit in Munich. All in all, she had driven over 120 miles at a time when no other automobile had traveled more than a few dozen feet. Her trip unleashed an avalanche of publicity and the couple began receiving orders for their newfangled contraption almost immediately. The critics now knew of the vehicle’s reliability and the Benz Patent Motor Car was the talk of the town. The public loved the Motorwagen in Munich and orders began to rush in the door.
Within a decade Karl’s company, Benz & Cie., became the world’s largest automobile company with a full-time staff of more than 400 and annual sales of nearly 600 vehicles.
Benz Factory Photo
Bertha Benz died in 1944 at the ripe age of 95. She is indeed a heroine of the auto industry one to be celebrated.
Carl Benz with family