Find out why Bertha Benz stole the first gasoline-powered automobile.


Karl Benz was a genius. Engineer and inventor, he worked tirelessly on his idea of a "horseless carriage," which he called the Patent-Motorwagen.

At the time, the idea of a motorized horseless carriage was unthinkable! Consider the circumstances: horses were abundant. They were not only transportation, they were majestic beasts and loyal companions.

Horses were fueled by hay, which grew everywhere. Petroleum, on the other hand, had to be dug up and bought. You could buy some at the local pharmacy, where it was sold as cleaning solvent, but it was much cheaper to simply let your horse graze.

The Kaiser himself loved horses, and called anyone who would replace them "unpatriotic." Yikes. Then there was the ultra-conservative church, who might look upon horseless carriages as heresy or witchcraft.

Given the political climate, it's no surprise Karl Benz isolated himself in his workshop, with no plans of ever selling his creations. His wife, Bertha, came from a wealthy family and supported him, but she believed in him and what he was building. She knew people would love the horseless carriage if they only saw it in action.

So she stole it, and took a joy ride.

Proving to her husband, and to the world, the practicality of the Benz Patent-Motorwagen, Bertha drove 65 miles across Germany, terrifying more closed-minded townsfolk, and inspiring many more.

When she returned to her husband a few days later, he was already receiving orders from customers eager to try this novel mode of transportation.

Are you eager to try a Mercedes-Benz? Come visit our showroom at 15461 South Tamiami Trail, Fort Meyers, FL. Let us show you how far we've come in 130 years. Our powerful 2015 Mercedes-Benz E-Class is a far cry from the 2 horsepower Motorwagen.

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