Iconic Names in the History of the Car

When it comes to the history of cars, there are some names that are instantly recognisable for their inventions and contributions to engine-powered human transport. You’re bound to recognise these famous surnames:

Nikolaus Otto

This one you might not instantly recognise, but his influence quite literally, changed the world. He wasn’t even an engineer, like so many top names in the history of the motor vehicle. He was a travelling grocery salesman who decided to teach himself engineering concepts. Throughout the 1860s, he worked on a number of designs for early engines. By 1876 he successfully invented a highly efficient gasoline engine that worked by repeating the same 4 steps over again, now known as ‘strokes’. Sound familiar? Every car engine has pretty much worked in the same way ever since. When it’s time for your car’s annual health check, think about a Gloucester MOT at http://swiftfit.uk.com/gloucester-mot/

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Karl and Bertha Benz

Karl Benz was an engineer from Germany who studied Otto’s work and wanted to better it. He created a similar but simpler gasoline engine and fitted it to a 3-wheeled carriage to make the world’s first gas-fuelled vehicle in 1885. This might not have had any impact, but it soon came to public attention after Karl’s wife, Bertha, borrowed the vehicle to take her and her two young sons to visit grandma 65 miles away! They had to buy fuel at chemist stores and occasionally push it up hills, but they made it and news of the journey caught the attention of the media. She advised her husband to add gears to help uphill driving, which he did and by the turn of the century, he was one of the leading car manufacturers in the world!

Gottlieb Daimler and Wilhelm Maybach

Daimler and Maybach worked for Otto until falling out with him and setting up on their own. They made the first ever motorbike by creating a giant gasoline engine, shrinking it down and attaching it to a wooden bike. They then turned their attention to making cars. In 1899, Daimler released a model called ‘Mercedes’ after the daughter of one of their customers. Benz and Daimler were ribals and competitors until the 1920s until they agreed to merge and manufacture cars under the iconic name of ‘Mercedes-Benz’.

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Rudolf Diesel

After spending months confined to a hospital bed following an accident, Diesel decided he could make a better engine than Benz and Daimler. He had the time to create a prototype in the early 1890s and this was the world’s first diesel engine. It had almost twice the power of a steam engine and could use almost any fuel at all, even peanut or vegetable oil. Sadly, he never lived to see his inventions come to fruition. Whilst travelling from Germany to England on the SS Dresden in 1913, he fell overboard and drowned. Many believe he was murdered by secret agents to prevent him selling his ideas to the English in the lead up to the Great War.