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By Eleanor Chavez,2014-12-28 11:08
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Press Information

    Press Information Contact

    Josef Ernst +49 (0) 711/17-5 04 95

     Date

    28/09/2005 Dr. Carl Benz automotive museum to move into the historical factory of C. Benz Söhne in Ladenburg ; Winfried A. Seidel Collection: Focus on Karl Benz and the C. Benz Söhne automotive brand

    ; Turn-of-the-century industrial architecture as the setting for an automotive-history collection

    Stuttgart/Ladenburg. The Dr. Carl Benz automotive museum in La-denburg will move, and the collection’s new domicile will be the fac-

    tory halls, almost 100 years old, of C. Benz Söhne. The historical fac-tory, in which the vehicles of the C. Benz Söhne brand were manufac-

    thtured in the early 20 century, was restored with the support of

    DaimlerChrysler AG and will provide an appropriate setting for the historical exhibits of collector Winfried A. Seidel. The objects include biographical exhibits relating to Karl Benz, among them his office and two rare vehicles of the C. Benz Söhne brand. In addition, the museum presents some 40 passenger cars, trucks and racing cars most of these

    of the Benz and Mercedes-Benz brands. These are complemented by bicycles, motorcycles and other exhibits relating to engineering history. The two-wheelers are also meant to build the bridge to Mannheim-born bicycle pioneer Karl von Drais.

    New life in the “old factory

    The “old Benz factory” is what Ladenburg’s citizens call the impres-

    sive building on the banks of the River Neckar. The venerable halls on Ilves-heimer Straße in Ladenburg look anything but old, however. The brick walls proudly glow in the sun; inside freshly painted iron girders

    DaimlerChrysler <Communications>, D-70546 Stuttgart (Germany), Auburn Hills, MI 48326-2766 (USA)

    Page 2 of 11 are glistening, and the air is filled with the fragrance of the newly laid wooden industrial parquet floors. And the blue sun, the signet of C. Benz Söhne, Ladenburg bei Mannheim” (C. Benz & Sons, Laden-

    burg near Mannheim), hangs resplendent above the stairs leading up to the entrance.

    thDuring the first quarter of the 20 century, only around 320 vehicles of

    this brand were manufactured here. At the time, there were many au-tomotive factories as small as this one. But the company on the banks of the River Neckar differed from its competitors in one crucial aspect: its founder. It was no other than automotive pioneer Karl Benz who es-

    thtablished the company in Ladenburg in the early 20 century, initially

    to produce engines. In later years, he changed to manufacturing auto-mobiles together with his sons.

    The mechanical engineering company C. Benz Söhne still exists today but moved into more modern buildings in Ladenburg. With the Dr. Carl Benz automotive museum founded by Winfried A. Seidel, a chap-ter of automotive history will return to its roots in September 2005. The highlights of the collection include, among other things, the last two vehicles of the C. Benz Söhne brand built in Ladenburg. These two touring cars left the brick halls in 1924 and will return to their

    birthplace in the fall of 2005.

    Collector and classic car expert Winfried A. Seidel is well aware of the special significance this historical site has for his museum: “The facto-

    ry itself is now one of the most important exhibits.” After the extensive

    restoration of the building, financed by DaimlerChrysler AG, the Dr. Carl Benz museum will be enhanced not just by an exhibition area that is about a third larger. The new museum building is also an architec-tural memorial to the life and work of Karl Benz in Ladenburg, thus bearing witness to the region’s industrial history.

    DaimlerChrysler <Communications>, D-70546 Stuttgart (Germany), Auburn Hills, MI 48326-2766 (USA)

    Page 3 of 11 Karl Benz

    Karl Benz was born on November 25, 1844 in Karlsruhe where he also grew up, went to school and subsequently studied at the polytechnic. After completing his studies, Benz worked first as an intern at Maschi-nenbau-Gesellschaft (a mechanical engineering company) in Karlsruhe and then as a design engineer in Germany and Austria. In 1871, he founded his first own company in Mannheim, an iron foundry and me-chanical workshop. In the following year, he married Bertha Ringer with whom he had five children: Eugen, Richard, Klara, Thilde and El-len.

    Alongside mechanical engineering, Benz soon discovered a new field of activity for himself, the development of engines, and as early as 1879 his factory presented an operational two-stroke engine. However, Benz left the company, meanwhile converted into a stockholding com-pany, as early as 1883 because he had had too little scope for decisions on technical developments.

    In the fall of 1883, Karl Benz established a new company, “Benz & Co.

    Rheinische Gasmotoren-Fabrik” (Rhenish Gas Engine Factory) in

    Mannheim and turned his attention to the design of a vehicle to be dri-ven by an internal combustion engine. In 1886, he was granted a patent on this “Motor Car” which he presented to the public the same year.

    The inventor’s wife, Bertha Benz, used the third version of this moto-

    rized three-wheeler for her famous long-distance journey from Mann-heim to Pforzheim in 1888. With this courageous trip, which also took her through Ladenburg, the energetic lady and her sons demonstrated the reliability of her husband’s motor car.

    By 1890, Rheinische Gasmotoren-Fabrik had developed into Germa-

    DaimlerChrysler <Communications>, D-70546 Stuttgart (Germany), Auburn Hills, MI 48326-2766 (USA)

    Page 4 of 11 ny’s second-largest engine factory. Innovations such as the double-pivot steering for automobiles (1893) and the horizontally-opposed piston engine (1896) consolidated the company’s position in the bud-

    ding market for motor vehicles. In 1903, however, Karl Benz largely retired from the company out of protest against the employment of French engineers at the Mannheim plant. They were to restore the competitiveness of the technically conservative Benz cars vis-à-vis Daimler’s Mercedes cars.

    Karl Benz remained a silent partner and served as a member of the su-pervisory board from 1904. He lived to see the merger of Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft and Benz & Cie. in 1926 and remained a mem-ber of the supervisory board of the resulting Daimler-Benz AG until his death.

    Benz in Ladenburg

    Karl Benz’s time in Mannheim came to an end in 1903 as he no longer wished to live in Mannheim after the breach with his old company. He first moved to Darmstadt with his family and from there to Ladenburg. Karl Benz had come to know Ladenburg, which had been granted a town charter under Roman rule in 98 A.D., while he was still living in Mannheim. Excursions in his motor car had time and again taken the inventor to the scenic old town on the River Neckar. Benz not only held the local inn in high esteem, where he liked to stop for lunch and a glass of red wine from the region. Prompted by the reasonable prices of real estate, Karl Benz acquired farmland in 1898 as a possible new location for a factory. Another ten plots of land were added in the fol-lowing months, but a new factory was still not being built here. After the breach with Benz & Cie. in Mannheim, the Benz family lived

    DaimlerChrysler <Communications>, D-70546 Stuttgart (Germany), Auburn Hills, MI 48326-2766 (USA)

    Page 5 of 11 in Darmstadt. When Karl Benz returned to the supervisory board of the company in 1904, he looked for a domicile closer to Mannheim. In-itially the family moved into a flat in Ladenburg’s Bahnhofstraße be-

    fore Karl and Bertha Benz acquired a magnificent house with a park-like garden on the River Neckar at a price of 48,500 Goldmarks in 1905.

    In this house, built in its present-day form by brewery owner Leonhard, Karl and Bertha Benz lived until their deaths in 1929 and 1944, respec-tively, and the estate remained the family’s property until 1969. In 1985, the Karl Benz House was acquired by Daimler-Benz AG, and today the building is the headquarters of the Gottlieb Daimler and Karl Benz Foundation. The ground floor rooms looking out onto the garden accommodate an exhibition dedicated to the engineering achievements of Karl Benz.

    C. Benz Söhne

    Despite the impressive house, the park and a garage built in the style of a fortified tower, Karl Benz had no wish to lead a pensioner’s life in

    Ladenburg. He commissioned architect Josef Battenstein with the de-sign of a mechanical engineering factory. The latter was built on the plots of land on the banks of the River Neckar, which Benz had ac-quired in 1898 and 1899. The company C. Benz Söhne started operat-ing in 1906. Initially, Karl Benz and his son Eugen built stationary en-gines in Ladenburg. But sales of naturally aspirated gas engines slumped when a growing number of companies switched to electric motors or diesel engines for driving their machinery. And so Karl Benz decided to design and build automobiles again.

    In 1908, his second son Richard joined the Ladenburg-based company, and the first vehicles were supplied to customers. Buyers responded

    DaimlerChrysler <Communications>, D-70546 Stuttgart (Germany), Auburn Hills, MI 48326-2766 (USA)