The world’s first long distance road trip by automobile by Bertha Benz, Germany, August 1888
Although several other German engineers (including Gottlieb Daimler, Wilhelm Maybach, and Siegfried Marcus) were working on the problem at about the same time, Karl Benz generally is acknowledged as the inventor of the modern automobile.
An automobile powered by his own four-stroke cycle gasoline engine was built in Mannheim, Germany by Karl Benz in 1885, and granted a patent in January of the following year under the auspices of his major company, Benz & Cie., which was founded in 1883. It was an integral design, without the adaptation of other existing components, and included several new technological elements to create a new concept. He began to sell his production vehicles in 1888.
In 1879, Benz was granted a patent for his first engine, which had been designed in 1878. Many of his other inventions made the use of the internal combustion engine feasible for powering a vehicle.
His first Motorwagen was built in 1885, and he was awarded the patent for its invention as of his application on January 29, 1886. Benz began promotion of the vehicle on July 3, 1886, and about 25 Benz vehicles were sold between 1888 and 1893, when his first four-wheeler was introduced along with a model intended for affordability. They also were powered with four-stroke engines of his own design. Emile Roger of France, already producing Benz engines under license, now added the Benz automobile to his line of products. Because France was more open to the early automobiles, initially more were built and sold in France through Roger than Benz sold in Germany.
In August 1888 Bertha Benz, the wife of Karl Benz, undertook the first road trip by car, to prove the road-worthiness of her husband’s invention.
The world’s first long distance road trip by automobile took place in Germany in August 1888 when Bertha Benz, the wife of Karl Benz, the inventor of the first patented motor car (the Benz Patent-Motorwagen), travelled from Mannheim to Pforzheim (a distance of 106km/66 miles) in the third experimental Benz motor car (which had a maximum speed of 10mph/16km/h) and back, with her two teenage sons Richard and Eugen but without the consent and knowledge of her husband. Her official reason was that she wanted to visit her mother but unofficially she intended to generate publicity for her husband’s invention (which had only been used on short test drives before), which succeeded as the automobile took off greatly afterwards and the Benz’s family business eventually evolved into the present day Mercedes-Benz company.
In 1899, F. O. Stanley and his wife Flora drove their Stanley Steamer automobile, sometimes called a locomobile, to the summit of Mount Washington in New Hampshire in the United States and to generate publicity for their automobile. The 7.6-mile (12.2km) journey took over two hours (not counting time to add more water); the descent was accomplished by putting the engine in low gear and doing lots of braking.
A chauffeur is a person employed to drive a passenger motor vehicle, especially a luxury vehicle such as a large sedan or limousine.
Originally such drivers were always personal servants of the vehicle owner, but now in many cases specialist chauffeur service companies, or individual drivers provide both driver and vehicle for hire, although there are service companies that just provide the driver.
The term “chauffeur” comes from the French term for stoker because the earliest automobiles, like their railroad and sea vessel counterparts, were steam-powered and required the driver to stoke the engine. Early petrol/gasoline-powered motor cars, before the advent of electric ignition, were ignited by ‘hot tubes’ in the cylinder head which had to be pre-heated before the engine would start. Hence the term ‘chauffeur’ which, in this context, means something like ‘heater-upper’. The chauffeur would prime the hot tubes at the start of a journey, after which the natural compression cycle of the engine would keep them at the correct temperature. The chauffeur also maintained the car, including routine maintenance and cleaning, and had to be a skilled mechanic to deal with breakdowns and tire punctures enroute; very common in the earliest years of the automobile.
Only the very wealthy could afford the first automobiles, and they generally employed a chauffeur rather than driving themselves. A 1906 article in the New York Times reported that “…the chauffeur problem to-day is one of the most serious that the automobilist has to deal with.”, and complained that “…young men of no particular ability, who have been earning from $10 to $12 a week, are suddenly elevated to salaried positions paying from $25 to $50…” – and recommended the re-training of existing coach drivers.