- and before the end of the following year the 2000th Benz left the factory. After a brief period of decline between 1901 and 1904, when the firm lagged behind others in design, Benz went on to produce numerous successful cars, including the huge "Blitzen Benz" 200 horse-power racing car.
- This 1896 Benz Velo is similar to the cars that ran in the Chicago Times-Herald race on Thanksgiving Day in 1895. That race was conceived of by Times-Herald newspaper editor H.H. Kohlsaat as a contest to promote and stimulate the invention, development, perfection and general adoption of automotive vehicles. Of the eighty-three automobiles set to go at the starting line, only six started on that cold snowy day. The 1895 race introduced the automobile to the United States and established racing as an important measure of automotive virtue. The race also provided a forum for innovations. It established the internal combustion engine as the preferred power choice over steam or electricity for future automobiles. Replacing the horse-driven carriage, the car became the ultimate expression of personal mobility embracing speed, power, reliability, and, inevitably, status. German mechanical engineer Carl Benz (1884-1929) is considered to be the inventor of the motorcar. Benz built the world’s first successful gasoline-engineered car, in 1885. A three-wheeler, it was powered by a three-quarter horsepower single-cylinder four-stroke engine, had an electrical ignition, a drive belt, and an advanced differential gear. To start the very first automobile, a heavy flywheel, situated underneath the motor and behind the drivers seat, had to be turned in a clockwise direction. This started the piston moving back and forth within the cylinder. The piston drew in gasoline vapor. A spark exploded the compressed fuel and the force of the explosion started moving the piston by itself. Chains were connected to gears on both back wheels and to a drive shaft, which propelled car forward. Unlike most early experimenters who built engines and fitted them into existing vehicles such as coaches or carts designed to be pulled by horses, Benz designed his cars as complete units. He received a patent for his design in 1886. Benz gave his first public demonstration on July 3, 1886. He reached a speed of nine miles per hour. The original motorcar and its inventor were met with derision and ridicule. One newspaper described Benz’s motorcar as "useless, ridiculous and indecent." The newspaper said, "Who is interested in such a contrivance as long as there are horses on sale?" Benz suffered under the public attacks and almost abandoned his motorcar. But his wife Bertha who had financed Benz’s experiments, decided that it was time to fight back. One night in 1888, Bertha and her two sons drove sixty-two miles from Mannheim to Pforzheim, Germany to visit her mother. Arriving safely and without incident, the very first long car-run in history silenced the critics. Benz went on to manufacture the world’s first standard production model. This automobile was his 1.5 horsepower three-wheeler. Sales were actually few, but the three horsepower Victoria of 1893 (Benz’s first four-wheeler), and the smaller Velo of 1894 became the first production models to be manufactured and sold in significant numbers. In 1895, Benz’s factory turned out sixty-two Velos and thirty-six Victorias. By 1898 annual production had risen to well over 400
|Source||Drackett, Phil. The Encyclopedia of the Motorcar. New York: Crown Publishers, 1979. Matteucci, Mario. History of the Motor Car. Turin, Italy: Octopus Books, 1970. Rand McNally Encyclopedia of Transportation. Chicago: Rand McNally & Company, 1976.|