On this day in 1888, German inventor and auto pioneer Bertha Benz took the first long-distance automobile trip, testing out the Benz Patent-Motorwagen on a route of 66 miles!
This novel trip was unique for several reasons. Namely, this was the first time the Patent-Motorwagen had been driven any significant distance, beyond a few short trial runs. Secondly, Bertha did this trip without permission from local authorities, and without her husband Carl’s knowledge. Carl Benz is often considered the inventor of the automobile – he and Bertha were business partners and each inventor in their own right, both contributed to the overall success of the Benz company.
Bertha’s unprecedented trip led to several improvements in the design of the Patent-Motorwagen, many of which have become standard features and functions of automobiles today. Without her visionary trip, features such as high gears for climbing hills, brake lining for better braking, and fuel tanks on-board may not exist as they do today.
Carl and Bertha (the Benz family of the Mercedes-Benz company) helped shaped the way that the world travels. A 66-mile journey today can be accomplished without any major preparation or strain on a vehicle.
In fact, today on a given day, the average person travels a distance that is over 1/3 of Bertha’s unprecedented journey.