Carl Benz built the first practical petrol-engined motorcar in
the world in 1885.
It was a tubular-chassied three-wheeler with a horizontal slow-revving
single-cylinder engine at the rear driven by belts to a countershaft
with chain drive to the back wheels.
The Benz Company of Mannheim, Germany, had sold 69 vehicles
of this type by 1893 and in that year four-wheeled cars were introduced
but otherwise still to the original design. These came in a variety
of sizes from the popular little Velo through to a 5hp 8-seater
From the earliest days Benzes were exported throughout Europe,
to the USA, to distant countries such as Mexico and Java, and
they were imported into Great Britain from 1895, where a Velo
The cars have often been criticised as being slow and old-fashioned,
but Benz built them as a substitute for the pony and trap. With
their simplicity and reliability they were very successful and
a total of 2317 Benzes had been sold by 1901. Many other car makers
based their first vehicles on the Benz layout.
Benz cars changed little in design until after 1900 but they
were a successful company both commercially and in racing, and
merged with Mercedes in 1926. Carl Benz died in 1929 at the age