Have you ever ever heard of Siegfried Marcus? Neither had I, till I used to be a part of a latest panel discussing early automotive historical past for the BBC World Service’s The Discussion board program broadcast.

Though Karl Benz and Gottfried Daimler are credited with inventing the transportation machine we’ve come to know as the car, it was really Siegfried Marcus who was first, and by 20 years.

It was as early as 1864 that Marcus began making petroleum-fueled motorcars. The Austrian inventor who would maintain 131 patents, although he by no means utilized for one for the motorcar, grew to become an apprentice mechanic at age 12, went to work at 17 for an organization that constructed telegraph strains, and later labored as a medical gear technician. 

In 1860, he opened his personal store in Vienna to provide mechanical and electrical gear.

Siegfried Marcus

“Who actually invented the primary car?” Michael MacRae writes on the web site of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. “All of it will depend on the way you outline phrases like ‘car,’ ‘first,’ and ‘invent.’ But when the query is, who was the primary to gear a combustion engine to a set of 4 wheels to make it go, the reply have to be Austrian inventor Siegfried Marcus.

“His primordial design lacked quite a few now-standard options equivalent to brakes, steering, and seats, to call a number of,” MacRae notes. “However what it did have – an inner combustion engine, a carburetor and 4 wheels – would supply the essential DNA of gasoline-powered cars for the subsequent 140 years and counting.”

The Marcus motorcar that survived World Conflict II was pushed in a parade in Vienna in 1950 celebrating his legacy | Herbrewy Historical past Federation picture

So why haven’t we heard of Siegfried Marcus? Austrian faculty youngsters realized about him and regarded him a nationwide hero of kinds within the early years of the twentieth Century. However then the reminiscence of Marcus was all however erased. 

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Why? As a result of he was Jewish, and after the Nazi invaded Austria in 1938, data of his work had been destroyed and his title faraway from textual content books. 

“They largely succeeded in writing him out of historical past,” MacRae explains. “Actual dates for his key improvements are nonetheless tough to nail down. However there isn’t any obfuscating the truth that this ahead-of-his-time engineer and inventor constructed 4 progressively subtle combustion-engine automobiles over a 10-to-15-year span, and plenty of of his innovations have discovered their approach into the automobiles of as we speak.”

Considered one of his motorcars did survive World Conflict II, hidden behind a false wall on the Vienna Technical museum (and presently is owned by the Austrian Vehicle Membership). Solely lately have Marcus’s accomplishments drawn consideration, particularly to his work on ignition and carburetors. 

Because it seems, MacRae writes, “Self-propelled transportation was an mental moderately than business enterprise for Marcus. He pursued his many areas of technological curiosity, together with using liquid fuels for lighting purposes. 

“When he realized the explosive pressure that occurred when he used sparks to ignite an atomized petroleum-and-air combination, he shortly realized the potential to harness that energy to do work. His two-cycle inner combustion engine was born.”

Considered one of his first initiatives was utilizing his engine to energy a four-wheeled cart, which MacRae notes “had the final word guide transmission.”

“For his first try, he mounted the motor on a four-wheeled cart and related it to the 2 again wheels. It had the final word guide transmission – actually a hefty helper who lifted the again finish as much as hand-start the automotive by spinning a rear wheel. When able to roll, the assistant lowered the automotive and off it went – for a history-making 500 ft.”

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  • http://journal.classiccars.com/
    Marcus’ early petrol-fueled engine
  • http://journal.classiccars.com/
    Siegfried Marcus standing at Austrian museum

Marcus would refine his future automobiles, one in every of them reportedly used to shuttle passengers from the prepare station to a lodge, however apparently, all of them had been one-offs and he didn’t produce them on the market. 

Marcus died in 1898 and MacRae notes that “throughout his lifetime, he was broadly thought of (and formally honored as) the originator of the motorcar.”

To learn extra about Marcus, go to the Hebrew Historical past or The Reality About Vehicles web sites.


Larry Edsall

A former day by day newspaper sports activities editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek journal earlier than making the transition to writing for the net and changing into the writer of greater than 15 automotive books. Along with being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Occasions and The Detroit Information and was an adjunct honors professor on the Walter Cronkite Faculty of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State College.