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The first long-distance trip by automobile in the history of mankind

In early August 1888 – the exact date is no longer known, unfortunately, although August 5 is often incorrectly mentioned – Bertha Benz and her sons Richard and Eugen were planning on visiting Bertha's mother in Pforzheim as a surprise.

She herself told later, "But Carl would never have allowed that. So, the two 13- and 15-year-old boys and I hatched a real conspiracy. We left early in the morning and had already traveled a couple of hours before daddy woke up."

The vehicle she used was model no. 3, rather than the patented motor car no. 1 that has been incorrectly depicted so often. The reason was that model no. 3 had an additional front bench offering quite enough room for three persons.

At that time, Dr. Carl Benz had already been granted a patent for his invention, the automobile, but potential customers still maintained many reservations because so far, the automobile had only covered very short distances. The Mannheim newspapers had already published reports about the carriage without horses, which were not too positive, though. At that time, Benz' automobiles simply did not sell yet.

This whole situation changed abruptly after the successful trip undertaken by Bertha Benz. The press now covered this event by detailed, positive reports, this great invention was on everyone's lips, and Dr. Carl Benz received invitations from all over the world.

Bertha Benz told later, "So I was the first one to show that 'daddy's' automobile was also good for long distances."

In return, Carl Benz had to admit, "She was much more courageous than me, and went on a decisive trip for the further development of the motor carriage."


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Signposts have been set up
Official Opening will be
embedded in the closing
ceremonies of
"Automobilsommer 2011"
Bertha Benz Challenge
(Open only for vehicles with
alternative drive systems)

more …

In Memoriam

Our friend Ms. Christiane Lubisch, who translated this website from German into English for free, passed away in December 2010.
We miss you, Christiane!