Accepted as the inventor of the motor car Karl Benz first unveiled his Benz 3-wheeler in 1885 at Mannheim (Germany). The vehicle was powered by a water cooled gas engine that was driven by the vapour of ligroin, or benzine. The rear wheels received the power by a pulley and belt that were attached to a transmission shaft whilst the water cooling was by water evaporation in a jacket round the cylinder. Despite inventors like Gottlieb Daimler who worked on 4-wheeler designs, Benz stuck to a 3-wheeled design for many years producing many vehicles but in the days before tarmac roads, many common place roads consisted of two rutted tracks left by horse drawn coaches. Whilst the 4-wheeler would often run in these ruts the front wheel of a 3-wheeler was running on uneven ground creating a bumpy ride and placing great stress on the structure of the vehicle itself. Benz had initially designed his vehicle as a 3-wheeler to overcome problems with steering.
In 1888 Benz started to advertise his 3-wheeler but the public refused to buy it. It was after his family (his wife and two sons) stole the car one night and drove it from Mannheim to Pforzheim (Approximately 65 miles) that the public became fascinated by it and the Benz started to sell. From 1893 Benz then changed his vehicle to a 4-wheeled design (The Benz Viktoria). Benz then later merged with Daimler to become Daimler-Benz. or Mercedes-Benz as most people know of it today. The name “Mercedes” came from one of Daimler’s business partners, Emil Jellinek. Emil Jellinek was an Austrian businessman, who had a young daughter, named “Mercedes”. He was also an avid car-racer and was known among his circles as “Monsieur Mercedes”. In the early 1900s, Jellinek was fascinated by the latest model cars provided by Daimler-Motoren AG, and bought a bunch of them, giving the crucial capital and exposure to different markets. He had two conditions for buying these cars from Daimler: First that he would become sole-agent in the Austrian-Hungary monarchy, France, and US, and secondly, the car would be named after his daughter, Mercedes.