Benz patent motor car

Did Mercedes-Benz make the first car?

Mercedes-Benz History: Did They Really Make the First Car?

Here at Mercedes-Benz of Arrowhead in Peoria, AZ, we have the privilege of selling cars from one of the most historied automakers in the world. Those may just sound like flowery marketing words, but they’re true. Mercedes-Benz can make a claim that no other automaker can…

Mercedes-Benz made the first automobile. Let’s take a trip back in time and see what it was all about.



The Patent Motor Car

On January 29th, 1886, Carl Benz—the man from which half of the Mercedes-Benz company gets its name—filed a patent in Berlin, Germany, for what he called the Patent Motor Car. It was a three-wheel carriage designed from the ground up to be powered by an internal combustion engine, the same type of engine most cars use today. This patent changed the world in a very literal sense, ushering in an age where anyone able to purchase a car has the freedom to go where they please, whenever they please. As such, the patent has been added in the UNESCO World Documentary Heritage archive.

Benz patent motor car photo from 1925

Interesting Details

While the Patent Motor Car had features that are still in cars today, like a crankshaft with counterweights, water-cooling, and electric ignition, it was very different from a modern vehicle. For instance, the Patent Motor Car only produced one horsepower. It also didn’t have foot pedals. The throttle was controlled by a sleeve valve under the seat and the brake was a hand lever. It also had a proto-continuously variable transmission. Needless to say, driving this vehicle was a very different experience than getting in your car today.


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