Happy International Women's Day, With Bertha Benz!

Since it's International Women's Day today, we thought we'd share with you the story of one of the most important women in automotive history. She took the first long-distance car trip in the world. She was the unstoppable Bertha Benz.

Before Bertha Benz ever married her husband, Karl Benz, she acted as his investor.

She was from a wealthy family, and he was raised in poverty by a single mother. Despite his financial disadvantage, Karl was brilliant, well-educated, and an idealist. She fell in love with him, and used her own dowry money to support his failing manufacturing ventures.

Though Karl had a genius for engineering and invention, he truly was a disaster with money.

He was on his third prototype of the Patent Motorwagen, a three-wheeled "horseless carriage," but for all the time he spent developing automobiles, he had barely taken them from the garage. He would never make a sale if he didn't publicize his invention.

So, Bertha did it for him.

Early one morning, with the help of her 13 and 15 year-old sons, she rolled Patent Motorwagen no.3 out of the garage, and far enough down the road to start up the engine without alerting her husband. Then, she drove off.

The year was 1888. There were no gas stations. The roads, where they existed at all, were maintained for horse travel. Kaiser Wilhelm II himself loved horses, and was sternly against the idea of a horseless carriage. Women did not have the same rights as men.

The fact that nobody in history had ever driven a car more than a few yards was the least of what made Bertha's decision so bold.

Yet, Bertha was undeterred. She was more than just her husband's financier. She understood the mechanical workings of the Patent Motorwagen second only to Karl.

On the 66 mile journey from Mannheim, Germany to her mother's estate in Pforzheim, the primitive automobile broke down several times. She fixed a clogged fuel line with a hat pin, and insulated an ignition wire with a garter strap. She planned her route strategically to bring her through every major town along the way -- not only to purchase fuel at local drugstores, and enlist cobblers and blacksmiths to make repairs, but because the sight of a woman riding atop a mechanical contraption stirred the townspeople's imaginations. Some were terrified -- a witch? -- but more were captivated and curious about the machine.

Thanks to Bertha's gall and audacity (and technical know-how), Karl Benz's automobile became an overnight sensation.

At Earthycars, we admire mold-breaking women like Bertha... but we're grateful we don't have to fix our cars with a hatpin like she did! If car trouble is pestering you, simply schedule car service and repair in Williston, VT, and keep being bold, and making history. Happy Women's Day!

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