Here's To The Pioneers: The Unbeatable Bertha Benz
This Women’s Day, we’d like to take a moment to pay homage to a woman who shaped the world as we know it. She laughed in the face of adversity, went against everyone’s criticisms and stood steadfast in her belief that something miraculous was about to happen.
Bertha Benz, as you might have seen from the recent Mercedes-Benz campaign, played an integral part in how the cars and engines that we love today came to be. She and her husband, Carl Benz, worked together to create something that was so out of this world that when people saw their creation smoking and rolling through the street, they thought it was a sign of the end of times.
That creature was nothing less than the Benz’s iconic Motor Car. However, the design that revolutionised the world did not come together in a day. Bertha and Carl spent several years toiling away at their project and faced financial hardships, judgement and scorn.
Bertha’s family warned her against marrying a penniless engineer, but instead of leaving him for a wealthier man (and perhaps a more comfortable future), Bertha used her dowry to invest in him. Once Bertha and Carl made reasonable headway with their invention, Bertha decided to prove that it was much more than a novelty. She took their project automobile for a long-distance trip to her mother’s. This was the first long distance trip to be made in a horseless carriage, but it did not happen without a few obstacles.
Bertha’s trip was challenging, tiring and frustrating. She had to constantly stop and fix problems as they arose, and she often had to make do with makeshift solutions like hairpins and her garter. She also ran out of fuel before she got to her destination. Bertha had to stop to buy 10 litres of ligroin from a local apothecary which also means that Bertha invented the first “filling station”.
Her trip wasn’t just to prove that their invention worked- it allowed Bertha to make note of the things that went wrong and to fix it in the future.
After they patented their invention and reaped the spoils of years of hard work, Bertha was living the life of luxury that her parents had promised she would never have with Carl. Despite never being allowed to study or further her formal education like her husband did, Bertha was no less important or valuable to their journey.
Her hard work, unfailing trust and unflinching determination is what turned their dreams into the reality that Mercedez-Benz is today. We thank Bertha Benz for her contribution!