With something as evolutionary as the automobile, it might be a fool’s errand to try and determine just who “invented” the car as we know it. Should we date and credit the automobile to Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot’s fardier à vapeur steam wagon of 1770, or should the timeline start with something more practical, more similar to the modern automobile? You have to start somewhere and most modern histories of the car credit Gotlieb Daimler and Carl Benz as being the auto’s inventors, with Benz’s Patent Motor Wagen usually cited as the first automobile, though as we shall see, that wasn’t always the case. Benz’s three-wheeler is considered to be so historically significant that even the replica Patent Wagens made by John Bentley Engineering in the UK from 1986-97 now fetch high five-figure prices at auction and many are in the collections of some of the finest automotive museums in the world including Mercedes-Benz’s own museum. It’s true that the Benz trike was the first practical automobile, and certainly the first that went into production and was sold, but while Benz and Daimler’s achievements were indisputable, it’s likely that the honor of being considered the automobile’s inventor was given to those German engineers after being stolen by the Nazis from Siegfried Marcus, a Jewish engineer and prolific inventor who lived and worked in Vienna.
December 3, 2011 - 7:23 pm