1886 BENZ: the first practical car

The Benz Patent Motorwagen is regarded as the world’s first practical car. Designed from scratch to be an automobile, it differed from other powered vehicles of the day, which were derived from horse-drawn carriages. Its one-cylinder engine produced approximately ¾-horsepower and could propel the three-wheeler to a top speed of about ten miles per hour. The engine was started by manually spinning the large flywheel, which was mounted horizontally because Karl Benz believed that the gyroscopic effect of a vertical flywheel would compromise the vehicle’s stability.

The Margie and Roberto E. Petersen Collection

Image: Jacob Nuibe Photography


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