Home The Market Daimler, Benz engines found innovative uses after motor car launches

Daimler, Benz engines found innovative uses after motor car launches


“A fresh wind is blowing through the economic world,” the news release begins, “young companies are competing with revolutionary ideas in order to change the future. 

“They are typical start-ups with small teams and high levels of agility and innovative strength. Their particular emphasis is on new technologies.”

While “this sounds very current,” the news release actually looks back 130 years to 1888 and to the work of Gottlieb Daimler and Carl Benz and their “pioneering achievements” two years after they unveiled their self-propelled motor cars.

In 1888, Bertha Benz proved the practicality of her husband’s motor car by driving it more than 100 kilometers to visit family members

Before attaching his petroleum-fueled engine to propel a wheeled vehicle, his three-wheel patent motor car, Carl Benz used it to drive a boat and for stationary power applications. And before Gottlieb Daimler and Wilhelm Maybach put their engine into a four-wheeled buggy, they’d created the world’s first motorbike.

In 1888, Daimler submitted a patent for a motorized fire extinguisher that used an engine rather than human pumping power to shoot water at flames. Unlike a steam engine, which took too much time to start and build up sufficient pressure, the Daimler engine was ready for immediate use. The engine also could sustain power, unlike the so-called gas extinguishers which used a limited supply of carbon dioxide as a propellent.

In August 1888, Leipzig bookseller Karl Wölfert flew a motorized airship powered by a Daimler engine

First powered-flight vehicle has been re-created in the Mercedes-Benz Museum

It also was in 1888 that one of Daimler’s engines propelled the first engine-powered flight, when Friedrich Hermann Wolfert’s airship traveled four kilometers from Daimler’s courtyard to the Aldingen parade grounds.

The ship used hydrogen gas to lift into the air and a Daimler engine to power a pair of propellers — one mounted horizontally and the other vertically to control the elevation and direction of travel.

That same year, Daimler’s engine powered a tram (street car) that could carry as many as 20 people on the rails of Stuttgart’s horse-drawn railway. It also was in 1888 that Benz’ wife, Bertha, proved the suitability of the motor car for travel when she and their sons drove more than 60 miles from Mannheim to Pforzhiem and back.

Motorized passenger tram was showcased on Stuttgart’s horse-drawn railway


Larry Edsall
A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Recent Posts