A Historic Road Trip

Car enthusiasts can follow the route taken by Bertha Benz on the first long-distance car journey in history and enjoy magnificent scenery along the way.

The Bertha Benz Memorial route, spanning 194 kilometers (120.5 miles) from Mannheim to Pforzheim via Heidelberg, follows the tracks of the world’s first long-distance journey by an automobile powered by an internal combustion engine.

Carl and Bertha Benz are pioneers of automotive history. Without her husband’s knowledge, Bertha Benz drove her two sons (13 and 15 years old) from Mannheim to Pforzheim via Heidelberg in August 1888 in the Benz patent motor car that Carl had developed. When the tank was empty, Bertha bought three liters (0.8 gallons) of ligroin from a pharmacy in Wiesloch (making this the world’s first petrol station). During her journey, the water and oil had to be constantly topped off and a broken drive chain had to be repaired by a smith in Bruschsal, who also covered the brake pads in leather. At one point, Bertha cleaned the blocked fuel line with her hat pin and used her garter for insulation. And her sons had to push the car once, at the edge of the Black Forest. Her outbound trip from Mannheim to Pforzheim was approximately 104 km (64 miles), while her return trip which follows an alternate route (to avoid some steep hills) along the Rhine River to reach Mannheim again three days later was approximately 90 km (56 miles).

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