Very short car life: Benz

Carl Benz's three-wheeler Motorwagen was the first successful use of the internal combustion-engined motor car. It featured a rear mounted horizontal engine with vertical crankshaft, belt primary drive and final transmission to the rear wheels by side chains. The entire package was placed on a tubular chassis that was suspended in place by three large wheels. The engine displaced 984cc and provided .9 horsepower. Top speed was achieved at 8 mph. It was not a romantic ride; it was loud, smelly and the occupants felt every bump and vibration. It was primitive, but at the same time it was 'state of the art.'

1894 Benz Velo

Carl Benz built the first ever gas-engined three-wheel motorcar in Mannheim, Germany, in 1885, and from the earliest days Benz cars were exported throughout Europe and the United States as well as to distant countries such as Mexico and Java. The 1.5 horsepower Velo was the first four-wheel car built by Benz. This car was discovered on the east in Long Island, New York, and was restored in England in 1985. It was in extremely original condition, complete apart from missing its lamps and seat cushion. The current owner has toured the United States extensively in this car. it was entered in the 1994 London to Brighton Veteran Car Run but did not make it to the finish suffering wheel damage early in the day.

1900 Benz Duc Vis-a-Vis Victoria

Two individuals working independently are credited at creating the automobile roughly around the same time. These two individuals are Gottlieb Daimler and Carl (Karl) Benz of Mannheim, Germany. The two both used an internal combustion engine to provide the power but the resulting styles of the automobile were unique. Daimler used pre-existing vehicles while Benz created a unified engine and chassis. By 1885, Benz's three-wheeler vehicle had been created but he waited a few years before offering them for sale. From 1885 through 1890 he spent his time perfecting his product. By 1890 he was offering the three wheeled vehicles for sale on a 'to order' basis. Benz struggled with steering and thus kept the three wheeled design until 1893. By then a solution had been found and the first four-wheeled Benz, the Viktoria, was introduced. The following year he introduced the Velo which was a lighter vehicle which offered improved maneuverability. By 1898 the Velo Comfortable was introduced which offered a greater degree of luxury. During that same year it proved its abilities by accomplishing a reliability run between London and Oxford, England.

In 1898 King Leopold II of Belgium commissioned Benz to create an automobile. The result was the Duc which stayed in production until 1900. Rather than using the traditional tiller steering, Benz used a revolutionary but primitive form of rack-and-pinion. This particular Benz Duc was created in 1900 and has the initials of original owner inscribed on the dash. The owner was Fritz Held who was Germany's first automobile race driver and Benz sales representative in Mannheim. It carried a sticker price of roughly $1050 and sat atop a 62 inch wheelbase. It is powered by a single cylinder engine that produced 6 horsepower.

1899 was a strong year for Benz, with nearly 600 cars being produced. This made him one of the world's foremost automobile producers. The other prominent German manufacturer was Daimler who sold his cars under the name 'Mercedes' beginning in 1901. By 1926 the two companies merged to form Mercedes-Benz.

1910 Benz 200HP Blitzen-Benz

The Blitzen Benz was designed to surpass 200 km/h (125 mph), an astonishing speed at the time. The car was made as narrow as possible to minimize wind resistance. The tall, narrow radiator core stands behind a brass grille, whose upper end forms an expansive tank that gives the car its signature 'bird beak.'

Powered by a huge 21.5 liter (approximately 1300 cubic-inches) engine that produced 200 horsepower, the car immediately began setting speed records in Germany, Belgium, and at Brooklands in England. Fulfilling the design objectives, the flying-start one-kilometer record was set at 202.7 km/h.

The giant Benz was shipped to America for a promotional tour in 1910. Promoter Ernie Moross hired Barney Oldfield to drive the 'Lightning Benz,' later renamed 'Blitzen Benz,' and he set an unofficial record of 211.97 km/h. Former Buick works driver Bob Burman later set an official record of 228.1 km/h for the flying-start kilometer. A second Blitzen Benz raced against the first in 1912. In 1914, Teddy Tetzlaff set a record at Bonneville in the second car at 229.85 km/h.

After Burman's death in 1916, the original car was dismantled in Europe. The Blitzen Benz shown was assembled from original and recreated parts in 1935 to mark the 50th anniversary of Daimler-Benz

1913 Benz 82/200HP

1913 Benz 82/200 HP Touring car has a massive, 21.5-Liter engine. In the early days of motoring, before there was limit on displacement size in racing, the best way to increase horsepower was to increase the displacement size. Displacement size grew quickly in the early years of automobile production, until regulations in 1913 had engineers searching for new methods of increasing horsepower. Displacement size was limited to 7.4-liters.

Karl Friedrich Benz was born in Germany on December 6th of 1844. He is remembered as the inventor of the first automobile as he was the first to patent his work. He was granted a patent for his engine in 1886, a design he had created in 1878.

When Karl Benz made the decision to enter motor racing, he turned towards France. The French had proven their abilities in motorsport competition and were a suitable choice in aiding in the production of a Grand Prix car. In 1908, Benz introduced the Grand Prix racer, which was powered by a 12.8 liter four-cylinder engine capable of producing 120 horsepower. The vehicle had a top speed of 160 km/h and was one of the more capable vehicles on the track.

Benz turned his sights on capturing a land speed record. The four-cylinder engine was removed and replaced with an one used to power aircraft. The result was a 228 km/h top speed and the fastest car on the planet in 1909. It was even faster than the trains and aircraft of the time; the car was twice as fast as any airplane and the rail speed record was 210 km/h which was set in 1903. The vehicle used to accomplish this feat was the dubbed the 'Blitzen-Benz'. The record would remain for eight years.

The knowledge gained in motor racing was used in designing and building road-going vehicles. The engines used in the Grand Prix cars were de-tuned to better accommodate the road-going vehicles. Though the engines were capable, much of the mechanical components were not up to par. The braking was still rather inadequate to keep the heavy coachwork in the drivers control. Fuel consumption was also an issue, as the large engines required much fuel.

The base model for the road-going series was the 10/18 HP which was powered by a four-cylinder engine displacing 2.4 liters. A larger 7.4-liter version was offered, the 29/60 HP, at a considerably higher price tag. These vehicles were followed by the '39/100 HP' and the '82/200 HP' models in 1912. The 39/100HP was powered by a 10-liter engine, while the 82/200HP had a 21-liter engine that produced 200 horsepower.

The 82/200HP Benz was among the fastest road-going cars of the day. Top speed was just over 100 mph and only six were constructed. These vehicles were fast and dangerous. Of the six created, only two remain. One is owned by Mercedes-Benz and the other is in the possession of a US collector.

This Benz 82/200 HP was shown at the 2006 Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance, after just been treated to a three year restoration. It has spent most of its life in Europe, having only recently come to the US. This is the sixth vehicle to be constructed, and was delivered to its first owner on December 24th of 1913. It sits on a long, 3200mm chassis, while the other five vehicles rest on a 2800mm wheelbase. Its is mostly original, except for the running boards and fenders. The coachwork was done by D&E Snutsel Pere & Fils and finished in four-seater convertible configuration. It was raced at Brooklands in this configuration, without the running boards, top, windshield, and fenders. It did well in competition, as there was little that could keep pace with this powerful engine. The elegant body and large engine may have made the horsepower-to-weight ratio a bit more competitive with the competition. The low-slung chassis would have given this vehicle and excellent advantage in handling and cornering.

The displacement size of the engine is very large, allowing a high degree a horsepower from while retaining low RPM and compression ratios. There were no brakes on the front wheels; in the rear, there were expanding brakes and an external band brake on the intermediate shaft.

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