Along with the Duryea in America and Gottleib Daimler’s four-wheeled carriage, Karl Benz’s 1886 Patent-Motorwagen is recognized as the foundation of the automobile, the first self-propelled, four-stroke internal combustion engine powered, self-contained motor vehicle.
Benz’s accomplishment is perhaps the most notable because it was his wife Bertha who demonstrated the little three-wheeler’s practical potential. In August of 1888, more than two years after Karl built and patented his motor vehicle, Bertha tired of his incessant tinkering and she set off in the Patent-Motorwagen with their sons to visit her parents in Pfozheim, some fifty miles away. The trip took the whole day – not surprising since the PatentMotorwagen could travel only about 10 miles per hour on level ground and wouldn’t climb much of a grade. A determined chauffeur and competent mechanic, she made repairs along the way, refilling the water tank and relining the brakes three times.