benz velo
                             Benz Velocipede

The Benz Velo was one of the first cars, introduced by Karl Benz in 1894 as the followup to the Benz Patent Motorwagen.

The Velo was officially introduced by Karl Benz as the Velocipede, and became the world’s first large-scale production car. The Velocipede remained in production between 1894 and 1902, with a final count of over 1,200 produced. The Velo is credited, together with the Duryea Motor Wagon, patented in 1895, as one of two first standardized cars. 67 Velos were built in 1894 and 134 in 1895. The early Velo had a 1L 1.5 hp engine and later a 3 hp engine giving a top speed of 12 mph (20 km/h).

Original Price :  2,000 marks (equivalent to $45,500 Canadian, today)

It was the first car introduced to South Africa and was demonstrated to then President Paul Kruger on 4 January 1897.

Benz Velo: Description


Manufacturer Rheinische Gasmotorenfabrik Benz & Cie
Also Called :  Benz Velo
Units :  1,200 units
Designer Karl Benz
Layout RR layout

Body and chassis-

Engine :  1.0L (1,045 cc (63.8 cu in)) single
Transmission :  3-speed automatic
Horsepower :  1.5 hp at 450 rpm ( later improved to 3.5 hp at 800 rpm)

Benz Velo: The First Automobile Race

benz velo
    Benz Velo at the Toyota Automobile Museum

Karl Benz’s Velo participated in the world’s first automobile race. A Parisian daily newspaper, by the name of Le Petit Journal, organized the race. The editors of Le Petit intended to display horseless carriages as a viable means of transportation. Rather than fastest time, the automobiles would be judged on whether they were safe and cost effective to operate.

It took place in 1894, starting in Paris and ending in Rouen. The winners of the Paris-Rouen race were Panhard & Levassor (Panhard) and Peugeot, both French manufacturers using Benz internal combustion engines. The Velo placed 5th overall in Le Petit’s race. Karl had proven with this race that his engines and his automobiles were not only attainable but also safe and reliable to operate. Eventually, manufacturers began optimizing automobile design for racing. In addition to promoting Benz and his automobiles, the Paris-Rouen race gave birth to modern Motorsport, which now includes the likes of Formula One.

Benz Velo: History

benz velo
                    Engine of the Velocipede

Preceding Events

Karl Benz patented the world’s first stationary, static Internal combustion engine. His patent created a great demand for his vehicles, forcing Benz to move his operations in 1886 to a new factory on Waldhofstrasse in Mannheim (operating until 1908).

Karl had appointed a Board of Management to help aid his growing company. These appointees suggested that they should create a less-expensive automobile suitable for mass-production. In response, they engineered a two-passenger automobile with a 3-horsepower engine, which he called the Victoria. This preceding model could reach a top speed of 11 miles per hour (18 km/h), and utilized a pivotal front-axle operated by a roller-chained tiller for steering. 85 units of the Victoria were produced. Improving on these designs, they created their Velocipede.

Following Automobiles

The Velo also inspired numerous copies, including Marshall (later Belsize) in Manchester, Star (Wolverhampton), and Arnold (Paddock Wood, of which only twelve were built). Benz’s Velo was particularly popular in France, where a Parisian bicycle manufacturer by the name of Émile Roger had been building their engines under license from Karl Benz.

Roger began building their automobiles as well, and as a result, a majority of Benz’s automobiles were sold in France initially. Many British Inventors also used Benz’s patents and automobiles as starting points for their own innovations. Frederick W. Lanchester, of Birmingham, built a four-wheeled petrol-driven automobile, which had utilized an electric starter (an adaption first seen in the Velo).



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here