PLEASE NOTE:   You're currently viewing a story posted in the legacy archive of eMercedesBenz. To view new stories and use commenting features, please use the navigation menu above.

 

 
 
eMercedesBenz Feature:  The World's First Production Car, The Benz Patent Motor Car Velocipede Of 1894
Posted September 12, 2008 At 3:50 PM CST by C. Danielson

The Benz Velo of 1894, front and side view

Karl Benz played a prominent role in promoting the development of the automobile. Some 25 units of the Benz Patent Motor Car of 1886 – the world's first automobile – were built. It goes without saying that Benz knew that a four-wheeled car would have greater cornering stability, however, he found the steering systems used for carriages at the time to be unsuitable for his purposes. He solved the problem – and filed a patent for his double-pivot steering (DRP 73515) in 1893. He installed it in the same year in his four-wheeled Victoria model. However, he had a lighter car in mind. At the World Exposition in Chicago (May 1 – October 31, 1893), Benz finally presented his Velocipede to the public. It was to become the world's first car from large-scale production and at the same time the first small car. Benz produced more than 1,200 units of this car between 1894 and 1902.

Karl Benz had also been engaged in the development of bicycles, called velocipedes at the time. At an early stage, he used this term for his first three-wheelers – probably to distinguish his light automobiles from the heavy motorized carriages. The Velo fulfilled all the criteria its designer had specified. It was light, robust, fast and inexpensive – with its "perfectly refined equipment complete with lanterns", it cost 2,000 marks which, however, was not exactly cheap at the time.

The car's top speed was 20 km/h. It was fitted with a wooden frame with iron reinforcements. It had compact dimensions and was 2.25 meters long – 45 centimeters shorter than the Benz three-wheeler – and it looked rather delicate on its wire-spoke wheels. The first version of 1894 tipped the scales at 280 kilograms – as much as 380 kilograms less than the Victoria. The car featured rigid axles front and rear. The double-pivot steering was operated via a vertical steering column in the center of the car.

Benz designed a new, smaller engine for the Velo. As before, this was installed horizontally, developed 1.5 hp at 450/min from a displacement of 1,045 cc and had a bore/stroke of 110/110 millimeters. Initially, Benz used his surface carburetor, to replace it at a later stage by the floating carburetor, which had equally been designed by him. As on the three-wheeler, the engine was started by the turning of the flywheel to chug away at an even rhythm. The fuel tank under the seat bench had a capacity of almost 18 liters – which seems to be plentiful at first glance but is put into perspective by a fuel consumption of some 14 liters per 100 kilometers. The engine, installed under a wooden hood, drove the countershaft with a loose disc, a fixed disc and an integrated differential via two flat belts, with two chains running from the differential to the two rear wheels. As on the larger engines of the three-wheeler and Victoria models, the crankcase was still open; an enclosed housing was not incorporated until 1898. The car had two forward gears but, initially, no reverse. Power was transferred to the road via a two-stage flat-belt transmission. The Velo rolled on wire-spoke wheels with solid rubber tires, 550 millimeters in diameter at the front and 850 millimeters at the rear. The wheelbase was 1,340 millimeters long; the track width was 1,000 millimeters at the front and 1,040 millimeters at the rear.

In 1896, an improved version of the Velo – the "Comfortable" model – became available at a price of 2,500 marks. It came with better equipment in every respect, and pneumatic tires were optionally available at a surcharge of 350 marks (540 mm diameter at the front and 780 mm at the rear). "The car attracted attention with its elegant lines and refined appointments, testifying to the fact that Benz set great store not only by outstanding design and excellent workmanship but also by perfect styling." The engine now developed 2.75 hp at 600/min – with unchanged fuel consumption – and was started by means of a crank, a major relief compared to the previous method. In addition, a planetary gear set with three forward gears and a reverse gear was available at a surcharge of 200 marks. Top speed had been raised to 30 km/h. A contemporary sales brochure listed additional equipment, for instance "a half-top and leather splash guard at 200 marks, and a parasol at 100 marks."

A revised model was introduced in 1900, with an engine developing three horsepower at 700/min from an unchanged displacement of 1,045 cc. The transmission with reverse gear introduced in 1896 now formed part of the standard specifications. In 1901, engine output was raised still further to 3.5 hp.

With his Velo, Karl Benz achieved two things above anything else. First of all, the production volume of more than 1,200 units testified to people's great desire for personal mobility inde-pendent of horses. And secondly, the Velo paved the way which was followed by Benz with his company: building cars in large series.



The Benz Velo of 1894, rear and side view
The Benz Velo of 1894 was the world's first large-scale production car.

The Benz Velo of 1894, front and side view
The Benz Velo of 1894 was the world's first large-scale production car.

The Benz Velo of 1894, side view
The Benz Velo became one of the most popular cars in its day and age. The photo shows a model of 1894.

Excursion from Mannheim via Schriesheim to Grossachsen along a scenic road in the Palatinate in 1895. The daughters of Carl Benz, Klara and Thilde, are seated in the first car, a Benz Velo. His son Richard, who was doing military service at the time, can be made out in the second car, a Benz Phaeton.
Excursion from Mannheim via Schriesheim to Grossachsen along a scenic road in the Palatinate in 1895. The daughters of Carl Benz, Klara and Thilde, are seated in the first car, a Benz Velo. His son Richard, who was doing military service at the time, can be made out in the second car, a Benz Phaeton. The other passengers are relatives of the Benz family.

Klara Benz at the wheel of a Benz Velo.
Klara Benz at the wheel of a Benz Velo. The Benz Velo, built between 1884 and 1899, was the first motor vehicle produced in series. According to the records, 381 units were produced between 1894 and 1897. The price of a car with removable half-top was 2,200 gold marks.

Benz Velo of 1895, side view
Benz Velo – shown here is a version of 1895.

Benz "Comfortable" of 1898, front and side view
Benz "Comfortable" of 1898.



Copyright © 2008, Daimler AG


Return To Previous Page...
 
 
 
 
 

 
About Us
Article Archives
 
Have A Story?
 
Links
 
Resources
 
RSS Feeds
RSS 2.0 Articles
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Copyright © 2010, eMercedesBenz.com. All rights reserved.