The World’s First Functioning Automobile – But, Where’s the Nav System?

July 3, 1886

The Benz Patent-Motorwagen, which is widely regarded as the first functioning automobile, made its debut when inventor Karl Benz officially unveiled the motorized vehicle in the city of Mannheim in the present-day Federal Republic of Germany. (At the time, Mannheim was part of the German Empire state known as the Grand Duchy of Baden.)

The Motorwagen was a three-wheeled automobile with a rear-mounted, single-cylinder, four-stroke engine. The vehicle’s other features included steel-spoked wheels, solid rubber tires, a toothed rack used for steering, and a belt system serving as a single-speed transmission. Benz, drawing on his strong familiarity with bicycles, had incorporated the basic technology of that older mode of transportation into the development of the Motorwagen.

Benz spent approximately 12 years working on the vehicle before completing it in 1885. He applied for a patent for his history-making creation in January 1886. He was granted this patent about four months after the vehicle’s big introduction to the public.

For more information on the Benz Patent-Motorwagen, please check out

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