25/11/1844 - 4/4/1929
Record updated 03-Apr-06
German automobile engineer. He is generally regarded as one of the inventors (with contemporary Gottlieb Daimler) of the petrol-powered automobile.
Karl Friedrich Benz was born in 1844 in Baden Muehlburg, Germany (now part of Karlsruhe). He was the son of an engine driver. Benz attended the Karlsruhe grammar school and later the Karlsruhe Polytechnic University.
Karl Benz loved to ride his bicycle through Karlsruhe and since then he pursued the dream of creating some motorized vehicle to replace it. Something finally accomplished with his Tri-Car of 1886 powered by a gas engine, and later by petrol. Though the genius also invented among other things, the clutch, the carburetor and the spark plug.
In 1871, He founded his first company with partner August Ritter, the "Iron Foundry and Machine Shop" a supplier of building materials.
Benz began his work on a two-stroke engine, in hopes of finding a new income. He received his first patent in 1879. In 1883, he founded Benz & Company to produce industrial engines in Mannheim, Germany. He then began designing a "motor carriage", with a four-stroke engine (based on Nicolaus Otto's patent). Benz designed his engine (958cc, 0.75hp) and the body for the three-wheel vehicle with an electric ignition, differential gears, and water-cooling. The car was first driven in Mannheim in 1885. On January 29, 1886, he was granted a patent for his gas-fueled automobile (DRP 37435) and in July, he began selling his automobile to the public.
In 1893, the Benz Velo became the world's first inexpensive, mass-produced car.
In 1903, Karl Benz retired from Benz & Company; his designs were already outdated by Gottlieb Daimler. He served as a member of the supervisory board of Daimler-Benz AG from 1926, when the company was formed, until his death.
He married Bertha Ringer in 1872, who played an active role in his business, together they had five children. Karl Benz passed away in 1929.
Karl Benz was also a great merchant and industrialist; founding the Benz Co., precursor of the Daimler-Chrysler. And before dying he could witness the blooming of automobiles and trucks in the World, used massively in the 1920s decade.