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Friedrich Benz
November 25, 1844 – April 4, 1929

 


Born

Karl Benz was born Karl Friedrich Michael Vaillant, in Karlsruhe, Baden, which is part of modern Germany, to Josephine Vaillant and a locomotive driver, Johann George Benz, whom she married a few months later.

When he was two years old, his father was killed in a railway accident, and his name was changed to Karl Friedrich Benz in remembrance of him.

Education

Despite living in near poverty, his mother strove to give him a good education.

Benz attended the local Grammar School in Karlsruhe and was a prodigious student.

In 1853, at the age of nine he started at the scientifically oriented Lyceum.

Next he studied at the Poly-Technical University under the instruction of Ferdinand Redtenbacher.
He had originally focused his studies on locksmithing, but eventually followed his father's steps toward locomotive engineering.

On September 30, 1860, at age fifteen, he passed the entrance exam for mechanical engineering at the University of Karlsruhe, which he subsequently attended.

Benz was graduated July 9, 1864 at nineteen.

Early Years


During his school years, while riding his bicycle, Benz started to envision concepts for a vehicle that would eventually become the horseless carriage.

Following his formal education, Benz had seven years of professional training in several companies, but did not fit well in any of them.

The training started in Karlsruhe with two years of varied jobs in a mechanical engineering company.

He then moved to Mannheim to work as a draftsman and designer in a scales factory.

In 1868 he went to Pforzheim to work for a bridge building company Gebrüder Benckiser Eisenwerke und Maschinenfabrik.

Finally, he went to Vienna for a short period to work at an iron construction company.

Married On July 20, 1872 Karl Benz and Bertha Ringer married. They had five children: Eugen (1873), Richard (1874), Clara (1877), Thilde (1882), and Ellen (1890).
Early Business Enterprise

In 1871, at the age of twenty-seven, Karl Benz joined August Ritter in launching the Iron Foundry and Mechanical Workshop in Mannheim, later renamed Factory for Machines for Sheet-metal Working.

The enterprise's first year went very badly.

Ritter turned out to be unreliable, and the business's tools were impounded.

The difficulty was overcome when Benz's fiancée, Bertha Ringer, bought out Ritter's share in the company using her dowry.

Despite such business misfortunes, Karl Benz led in the development of new engines in the early factory he and his wife owned.

To get more revenues, in 1878 he began to work on new patents.

First, he concentrated all his efforts on creating a reliable gas two-stroke engine.

Benz finished his two-stroke engine on December 31, 1878, New Year's Eve, and was granted a patent for it in 1879.
Karl Benz showed his real genius, however, through his successive inventions registered while designing what would become the production standard for his two-stroke engine.

He soon patented the speed regulation system, the ignition using white power sparks with battery, the spark plug, the carburetor, the clutch, the gear shift, and the water radiator.

Problems arose again when the banks at Mannheim demanded that Bertha and Karl Benz's enterprise be incorporated due to the high production costs it maintained.

The Benzes were forced to improvise an association with photographer Emil Bühler and his brother, a cheese merchant, in order to get additional bank support.

The company became the joint-stock company Gasmotoren Fabrik Mannheim in 1882.

After all the necessary incorporation agreements, Benz was unhappy because he was left with merely five percent of the shares and a modest position as director.

Worst of all, his ideas weren't considered when designing new products, so he withdrew from that corporation just one year later, in 1883.

Motor Racing

Almost from the very beginning of the production of automobiles, participation in sports car racing became a major method to gain publicity for manufacturers.

At first, the production models were raced and the Benz Velo participated in the first automobile race: Paris to Rouen 1894.

Later, investment in developing racecars for motorsports produced returns through sales generated by the association of the name of the automobile with the winners.

Unique race vehicles were built at the time.

The first mid-engine and aerodynamically designed, Tropfenwagen, a "teardrop" body was introduced at the 1923 European Grand Prix at Monza.

In the last production year of the Benz Sons company, 1923, three hundred and fifty units were built. During the following year, 1924, Karl Benz built two additional 8/25 hp units of the automobile manufactured by this company, tailored for his personal use, which he never sold; they are still preserved.

Died

On April 4, 1929, Karl Benz died at home in Ladenburg at the age of eighty-four from a bronchial inflammation.

Until her death on May 5, 1944, Bertha Benz continued to reside in their last home.

Members of the family resided in the home for thirty more years.

The Benz home now has been designated as historic and is used as a scientific meeting facility for a nonprofit foundation, the Gottlieb Daimler and Karl Benz Foundation, that honors both Bertha and Karl Benz for their roles in the history of automobiles.



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