Karl Benz invented the internal combustion engine automobile in order to get more income for his iron foundry and sheet metal shop, according to the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. Benz and his wife settled in Mannheim, Germany, where he patented several inventions that brought about modern automobiles.
Benz patented a two-stroke engine in 1879 and founded Benz and Company in 1883 to improve his designs into a four-stroke motor carriage. The first car was a three-wheeled "Motorwagen" that seated two people and topped out at 8 miles per hour. Benz patented technology such as electric ignition, water cooling and gears.
Publicity was needed to make the car a commercial success. Enter Benz's wife Bertha who made the 66-mile trip from Mannheim to Pforzheim to visit her mother. The car startled local residents along the route, and word of the invention quickly spread. Every two years, auto enthusiasts recreate the journey with an antique car rally.
Suddenly, Benz had a customer base. In July 1886, Benz started selling his car to the public. The Benz Velo was the first mass-produced car ever made. Ten years after the Velo rolled out of the factory, Benz retired from his business in 1903, and then his company merged with Daimler in 1926.