The very first self-powered road
vehicles were powered by steam engines and by that definition Nicolas Joseph
Cugnot of France built the first automobile
in 1769 - recognized by the British Royal Automobile Club and the Automobile
Club de France as being the first. So why do so many history books say
that the automobile was invented by either Gottlieb Daimler or Karl Benz?
It is because both Daimler and Benz invented highly successful and practical
gasoline-powered vehicles that ushered in the age of modern automobiles.
Daimler and Benz invented cars that looked and worked like the cars we
use today. However, it is unfair to say that either man invented "the"
of the Internal Combustion Engine - The Heart of the Automobile
combustion engine is any engine that uses the explosive combustion of fuel
to push a piston within a cylinder - the piston's movement turns
a crankshaft that then turns the car wheels via a chain or a drive shaft.
different types of fuel commonly used for car combustion engines are gasoline
(or petrol), diesel, and kerosene.
A brief outline
of the history of the internal combustion engine includes the following
and car design were integral activities, almost all of the engine designers
mentioned above also designed cars, and a few went on to become major manufacturers
of automobiles. All of these inventors and more made notable improvements
in the evolution of the internal combustion vehicles.
Dutch physicist, Christian Huygens designed (but never built) an internal
combustion engine that was to be fueled with gunpowder.
Francois Isaac de Rivaz of Switzerland invented an internal combustion
engine that used a mixture of hydrogen and oxygen for fuel. Rivaz designed
a car for his engine - the first internal combustion powered automobile.
However, his was a very unsuccessful design.
English engineer, Samuel Brown adapted an old Newcomen steam engine
to burn gas, and he used it to briefly power a vehicle up Shooter's Hill
engineer, Jean Joseph
Étienne Lenoir invented and patented (1860) a double-acting, electric
spark-ignition internal combustion engine fueled by coal gas. In
1863, Lenoir attached an improved engine (using petroleum and a
primitive carburetor) to a three-wheeled wagon that managed to complete
an historic fifty-mile road trip. (See image at top)
Alphonse Beau de Rochas, a French civil engineer,
patented but did not build a four-stroke engine (French patent #52,593,
January 16, 1862).
engineer, Siegfried Marcus*, built a one-cylinder
engine with a crude carburetor, and attached his engine to a cart for a
rocky 500-foot drive.
Several years later, Marcus designed a vehicle that briefly ran
at 10 mph that a few historians have considered as the forerunner of the modern
automobile by being the world's first gasoline-powered vehicle (however, read conflicting
George Brayton, an American engineer, developed an unsuccessful two-stroke
kerosene engine (it used two external pumping cylinders).
However, it was considered the first safe and practical oil engine.
German engineers, Eugen Langen and Nikolaus August Otto improved on Lenoir's
and de Rochas' designs and invented a more efficient gas engine.
Nikolaus August Otto invented and later patented a successful four-stroke
engine, known as the "Otto cycle".
The first successful two-stroke engine was invented by Sir Dougald Clerk.
1883 - French engineer, Edouard
Delamare-Debouteville, built a single-cylinder four-stroke engine that
ran on stove gas. It is not certain if he did indeed build a car, however,
Delamare-Debouteville's designs were very advanced for the time - ahead
of both Daimler and Benz in some ways at least on paper.
Gottlieb Daimler invented what is often recognized as the prototype of
the modern gas engine - with a vertical cylinder, and with gasoline injected
through a carburetor (patented in 1887). Daimler first built a two-wheeled
vehicle the "Reitwagen" (Riding Carriage) with this engine and a
year later built the world's first four-wheeled motor vehicle.
1886 - On January 29, Karl Benz
received the first patent (DRP No. 37435) for a gas-fueled car.
Daimler built an improved four-stroke engine with mushroom-shaped valves
and two V-slant cylinders.
Maybach built the first four-cylinder, four-stroke engine.
Reading - The Mechanics of Internal Combustion Engines - What is
a 2-stroke? 4-stroke?
of Nicolaus Otto
One of the most important landmarks
in engine design comes from Nicolaus August Otto who in 1876 invented an
effective gas motor engine. Otto built the first practical four-stroke
internal combustion engine called the "Otto Cycle Engine," and as soon
as he had completed his engine, he built it into a motorcycle. Otto's contributions
were very historically significant, it was his four-stoke engine that was
universally adopted for all liquid-fueled automobiles going forward. (Learn
more about Nicolaus Otto)
of Karl Benz
In 1885, German mechanical engineer,
Karl Benz designed and built the world's first practical automobile to
be powered by an internal-combustion engine. On January 29, 1886, Benz
received the first patent (DRP No. 37435) for a gas-fueled car. It was
a three-wheeler; Benz built his first four-wheeled car in 1891. Benz &
Cie., the company started by the inventor, became the world's largest manufacturer
of automobiles by 1900. Benz was the first inventor to integrate an internal
combustion engine with a chassis - designing both together. (Learn more
Importance of Gottlieb Daimler
In 1885, Gottlieb
Daimler (together with his design partner Wilhelm Maybach) took Otto's
internal combustion engine a step further and patented what is generally
recognized as the prototype of the modern gas engine. Daimler's connection
to Otto was a direct one; Daimler worked as technical director of Deutz
Gasmotorenfabrik, which Nikolaus Otto co-owned in 1872. There is some controversy
as to who built the first motorcycle
Otto or Daimler.
The 1885 Daimler-Maybach
engine was small, lightweight, fast, used a gasoline-injected carburetor,
and had a vertical cylinder. The size, speed, and efficiency of the engine
allowed for a revolution in car design. On March 8, 1886, Daimler
took a stagecoach and adapted it to hold his engine, thereby designing
the world's first four-wheeled automobile. Daimler is considered
the first inventor to have invented a practical internal-combustion engine.
In 1889, Daimler
invented a V-slanted two cylinder, four-stroke engine with mushroom-shaped
valves. Just like Otto's 1876 engine, Daimler's new engine set the basis
for all car engines going forward. Also in 1889, Daimler and Maybach built
their first automobile from the ground up, they did not adapt another purpose
vehicle as they had always been done previously. The new Daimler automobile
had a four-speed transmission and obtained speeds of 10 mph.
the Daimler Motoren-Gesellschaft in 1890 to manufacture his designs. Eleven
years later, Wilhelm Maybach designed the Mercedes automobile. (Learn
more about Gottlieb
Daimler & Wilhelm Maybach)
Siegfried Marcus built his second car in 1875 and it was as claimed, it
would have been the first vehicle powered by a four-cycle engine and the
first to use gasoline as a fuel, the first having a carburetor for a gasoline
engine and the first having a magneto ignition. However, the only existing
evidence indicates that the vehicle was built circa 1888/89 - too late
to be first.
page > The Start of the Assembly Line
all artwork mary bellis