Bertha Benz was the First Woman in history to drive a car over a long distance. Bertha Benz was a German national, died on May 5th, 1944 at the age of 95 in Ladenburg, Germany.
Most of us know who invented the first car with an internal combustion engine, right! I guess that’s a pretty easy question to answer. It’s Karl Benz. Well but none of this would have been possible if it wasn’t for a woman. And that woman is Bertha Benz – Karl’s wife. Bertha ringer, better known as Bertha Benz was the first woman in history to drive an automobile over a long distance, the woman behind the automotive revolution. Why her story interested me the most was because I have immense attraction and interest towards automobiles and automobile design. Being a designer I am very curious to learn and understand the real kinetic reasons behind the design strategies.
Bertha’s husband. Karl Benz is the maker of the first car which runs on a fuel-burning engine and the founder of Mercedes Benz with German engineer Gottlieb Daimler. The story of Bertha somewhat raised quite a few questions though; while it was a man who designed, developed, engineered, and created the car, none of them actually dared to drive it over a long distance before her. She drove her husband’s creation for 106 kilometers ( 66miles ). When Karl Benz introduced the Motorwagen to the world, a video was released telling the first-ever driver of an automobile is a woman. As Mercedes Benz says, “she forged the road ahead, to pave it for us all.”
Bertha Benz took the car without telling her husband and without any permission from the authorities which actually is really commendable. She drove her husband’s Model III from Mannheim to Pforzheim which was illegal at that time and she became the first to drive an automobile on a significant distance. She drove the car along with her two children – Richard and Eugen, thirteen and fifteen years old respectively at that time. But the main idea behind her driving her husband’s the car was to prove that this automobile is a significant invention and if marketed well, it would be a fortune for them. She even fixed the mechanical problems in the car herself and even bought some additional fuel from a local chemist in Wiesloch which was later coined as the first fuel station in the world. Eventually, she arrived at her destination and later informed Karl Benz about her successful trip via a telegram. A clear example of a woman as the reason behind a man’s success.
Bertha Benz, when she was unmarried, was free to invest her money freely, but the places she had invested in, resulted in complete failure. Later after marrying Karl Benz, she no longer had the option to act as a rightful investor, so she gave most of her money to Karl Benz and his inventions. Truly a support pillar she was. Although Karl Benz was an intelligent engineer and was a complete genius he wasn’t a professional businessman or should say, he was lacking vision in terms of his inventions. He even forgot to add a fuel tank to his car invention. No one was ready to buy his invention. But Bertha was convinced that eventually, people will buy it, they need it. It’s just that people don’t realize it. This is where her part came in. Her adventurous yet convincing action changed history and marked the discovery of one of the biggest inventions of the world. She knew that people were somewhat interested but they feared the new inventions. They just needed to be convinced. But after many presentations, marketing, and upgraded versions, still there were no buyers. All their money was put into this and they were desperate to sell their inventions. Bertha finally realized that the buyers needed a full-proof demonstration to actually make them buy this and make their lives easier. Thus there she devised this plan of going on a first-ever road trip in the Benz Patent Motorwagen No. III.
The journey in itself was a massive success. By completing the first-ever long-distance journey in automotive history, Bertha proved to both her husband and the public that automobiles had a big future ahead. The rise of the later Benz & Cie, Rheinische Gasmotorenfabrik AG, Mannheim to become the world’s largest automobile organization was nowhere near imagination had it not been for Bartha and her children. In later months Karl Benz held a massive exhibition with the latest and improved versions of his car in Munich which won him a gold medal and attracted a lot of press attention. Bertha’s publicity stunt finally worked.
In a feature by journalist Fahd Aamer al- Ahmadi, Bertha says “ was not only a courageous woman but also very smart. She was introduced to inventions during her trip. To increase the engine’s power, she stopped at the pharmacy and bought a fuel stimulating agent. Also when she noticed breaks were weak, she stopped at a blacksmith and asked to dress the clutch in horse leather to better curb the wheels”.
The value that Bertha Benz has added to this incredible journey of Karl Benz’s invention is hard to quantify properly. Bertha was a strong-willed, energetic woman who played a subordinate role in the patriarchal society of the German Empire in appearances only. She encouraged and convinced her self-doubting and sullen husband in her own unique way pushing her to continue time and again after setbacks. Without her, there would never have been a Benz company in Mannheim. Also, it is worthy to mention here that women were not allowed to travel solo at that time, and taking this huge step is something she should be remembered for and must be known to those who are unaware of it.
Credited to: Aadrika Sharma
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