Gottlieb Daimler was a German engineer fascinated with creating engines to move vehicles of all types.
In 1882, he and his lifelong business partner Wilhelm Maybach worked together in a converted green house on Daimler’s property. The workshop was an incubator for their ideas and dreams of creating a movable universal drive system for vehicles on land, on water and in the air.
They toiled in secrecy and worked day and night on designing and building engines. The neighbors became suspicious that the two might even be counterfeiting coins as they would hear all sorts of odd noises in the evening. They contacted the local police who paid a surprise nocturnal visit. But the two officers didn’t find money making machines, but instead found the garden house to be full of tools, and parts and prototype engines.
Gottlieb Daimler’s Greenhouse
Daimler and Maybach were left to continue their inventions and project undisturbed. In 1883 they started work on developing the world’s first high-speed four-stroke engine. They also designed a horizontal cylinder layout compressed charge liquid petroleum engine that met Daimler’s desire for a high speed engine which could be throttled. This made it useful for transportation applications. This engine was called “Daimler’s Dream”.
In 1885 they created their famous “Grandfather clock engine” which was smaller and lighter.
Gottlieb Daimler’s Patent Drawing for First Motorcyle 1885
The world’s first motorcycle, was Gottlieb Daimler’s four-stroke, single-cylinder engine, which he registered for patent on 3 April 1885. This was a milestone in the history of technology, since the unit was small and powerful compared with other combustion engines of the day for stationary operation.
Daimler’s priority, on the other hand, was the engine’s mobile application.
Two months later they were able to fit the engine into a four wheeled converted carriage. Daimler applied for a patent for his riding car with “gas or petroleum engine,” as it was described in the patent specification, on 29 August 1885 (German Patent No. DRP 36423 was awarded on 11 August 1886).
Daimler and Maybach’s single cylinder engine the “Grandfather Clock”
The one cylinder engine developed by Daimler and Maybach was fitted into a variety of vehicles including:
1. Two-wheeled riding car (1885)
2. Motor boat called Marie (1887)
3. Four seat railway trolley (1887)
4. Waggonet (1887)
5. Wölfert’s motorised airship (1888).
From the beginning, Gottlieb Daimler wanted his engines to be as universal as possible.
Gottlieb Dimeler (passenger) and his son Adolf on the motor carriage 1886.
In August 1890, Daimler shipped the first Wilhelm Maybach-designed four-cylinder engine to New York.
The First Operational Vehicle in the USA
Wilhelm Maybach, had been friends with piano manufacturer William Steinway since 1876. Steinway had immigrated to America, but returned briefly to Germany inn 1888. Maybach introduced Steinway to Daimler that year.
Steinway went on to commission the first vehicle engine in the US. On September 29, 1888, piano manufacturer William Steinway was the first to represent Daimler’s interests in the US. He established the Daimler Motor Company on Long Island, New York.
The Daimler Company in New York
Daimler’s Motor Carriage Advertisement
Gottlieb Daimler’s Exhibitor Pass for the Chicago World’s Fair of 1893
Promoting the Automobile
Gottlieb showed his first version of an American automobile at the Chicago World’s Fair of 1893. At the time Gottlieb was also on his honeymoon with his second wife.
Trivia fact: Oddly enough Daimler who spent his entire career working on engines didn’t care for driving and was rumored to never have drove an automobile.