Karl Benz had previously constructed an immensely popular stationary gasoline engine, the first ever made, in 1879. A stationary engine is typically used for machines that do not provide locomotion for their frames. Karl Benz’s model was powered by a one-cylinder, two-stroke engine.
In spite of his successes, Benz used the surplus funds provided by his already-established machine to finance a new one: an automobile, which was to be powered by a single engine/chassis unit.
After several years of work, the two-seat car was completed in 1885. Its major components included the horizontally-mounted, 0.75 hp, single-cylinder, four-stroke engine and the wheels it powered. The three wheels were spoked and the front wheel was smaller than the two powered back wheels. The engine that provided their locomotion was held in place by a tubular, steel frame.
Other features consisted of “an automatic intake slide, a controlled exhaust valve, high-voltage electrical vibrator ignition with spark plug, and water/thermo siphon evaporation cooling.” The vehicle received its patent on January 29 of 1886.
The true test of Benz’s creation was conducted without his knowledge. An upgraded version of the motor car was driven by Benz’s wife for a total of 111.847 miles (180 km). This show of ability sprung the company to fame, to become the infamous Mercedes-Benz franchise.
In 1893, Benz was the owner of another patent. The double-pivot steering system was invented by the successful man for yet another breakthrough. In 1894, he pioneered the first production car, dubbed the Benz Velo, with 1,200 units. Between 1897 and 1900, Benz developed the “twin engine,” two one-cylinder engines lined up next to each other. When this setup did not appeal to Benz, he revised it, calling it the contra-engine. In this system, the two cylinders were opposite each other. This engine was also rear-mounted, but could muster up to 16 hp.