We are all tired of jokes about female drivers. In many cases, they are much more concentrated and careful people behind the wheel than male drivers. And, to be honest, the first-ever driver of an automobile is a woman. As Mercedes-Benz says, “she forged the road ahead, to pave it for us all.”
As the story goes, Bertha Benz, the wife of Karl Benz who built the first car in 1988, took her husband’s Patent-Motorwagen Model III without telling him and without the permission of the authorities for a trip from Mannheim to Pforzheim. While illegal, this 66-miles (106-kilometer) historical journey marked the first time someone drove an automobile on a significant distance.
Bertha had one very important mission. She wanted to prove her husband that the automobile, in which they both had invested a large amount of money, is a significant invention and, if marketed, it would become a financial success. She had great technical capabilities and fixed a number of mechanical issues during the trip. Bertha even had to stop in the city of Wiesloch and buy additional fuel from a local chemist, who later was crowned as the first fuel station in the world.
The video at the top, released recently by Mercedes-Benz, features one of the most famous moments of that legendary trip. Bertha had to use her garter as insulation material and also cleaned a blocked fuel line with her hat pin. The engine required a large amount of water for cooling, so Bertha, together with her sons Richard and Eugen, thirteen and fifteen years old respectively, had to supply water every time they stopped. Richard and Eugen even had to push the vehicle up steer roads because of the vehicle’s lack of power.
Eventually, Bertha reached her final destination and informed her husband about the successful trip by a telegram. She drove back to her hometown a couple of days later and the rest, as they say, is history.
Source: Mercedes-Benz USA on YouTube