Gas engines 3 min read

Who was Carl Benz?

Carl Benz, born on November 25, 1844 in Mühlburg, which is now a district of Karlsruhe, was an exceptional German engineer and inventor.
24. Oct 2023
Daniel Waldauf

Carl Benz, born on November 25, 1844 in Mühlburg, which is now a district of Karlsruhe, was an exceptional German engineer and inventor, renowned for his groundbreaking contributions to the field of automobile manufacturing. He was also the founder of “Motorfahrzeug- und Motoren-Werke Mannheim AG”, which still does stand for MWM® gas engines.

His name is inseparably associated with the invention of the first mass-produced automobile, which laid the groundwork for the modern automotive industry. But who was Carl Benz really, and how did he accomplish this groundbreaking feat? In this article, we delve into his life and his most noteworthy achievements.

Early years and education

Carl Benz grew up in humble conditions. His father was a locomotive locksmith, but died in an accident when his son was not older than two years. However, this early exposure to machines might have ignited his interest in technology and mechanics.

After completing elementary school, he attended the Karlsruhe Polytechnic School, where he demonstrated his exceptional talent for engineering. Later on, he graduated from the University of Karlsruhe in 1864, with a degree in mechanical engineering.

Private life

Carl Benz maintained a discreet personal life amidst his professional achievements. He prioritized privacy, dedicating his time to his family and his work.

His marriage to Bertha Ringer, with whom he had five children, also played a significant role in his career. For instance, it was her who made the first-ever long-distance travel in a horseless carriage, as she drove 66 miles in a Motorwagen to see her mother in Pforzheim, leading to great attention on this car.

Outside the public eye, Benz immersed himself in his work, spending countless hours refining his inventions and pushing the boundaries of automotive technology. Despite his fame, he valued the simple joys of family life, finding fulfillment in the company of his loved ones.1

The initial inventions

Benz quickly gained recognition as an inventor. Even at a young age, he tinkered with various technical problems and in 1866, he developed his first patent – a hot air engine. This was just the first of many crucial steps on his path to his groundbreaking invention.

The breakthrough

The breakthrough in Benz’s career came in 1885, when he obtained the patent for his first automobile — the “Benz Patent Motorwagen Number 1”. This vehicle was the first of its kind and is often considered to be the world’s first mass-produced automobile.

The motor car was equipped with an internal combustion engine powered by gasoline, and it was capable of reaching a maximum speed of approximately 16 km/h. This invention laid the groundwork for the modern automotive industry and revolutionized mobility worldwide.

Benz & Cie.

Before the success of the first motor car, Carl Benz founded his company “Benz & Cie.” in 1883, specializing in the production of automobiles. The company grew quickly and became one of the leading manufacturers of automobiles in Germany. Benz was actively involved in the continuous development of his vehicles and consistently introduced innovative models to the market.


After leaving the company, Carl Benz founded “Motorfahrzeug- und Motoren-Werke Mannheim AG” (MWM) in 1909. Here, he continued his research and focused on the development of engines for various applications.

Carl Benz passed away on April 4, 1929, but his legacy continues to live on. His innovations in the field of automotive engineering have profoundly influenced the modern world and remain a fundamental aspect of our present-day mobility.

His name is inseparably linked to the history of the automobile, and his groundbreaking ideas have paved the way for the emergence of one of the most important industries in the world. Carl Benz will therefore be remembered not only as an engineer and inventor, but also as a pioneer of modern mobility.

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Frequently Asked Questions

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  1. ASME: Karl Benz. 4/2012. ↩︎

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