ASME-Landmark:Siegfried Marcus Car


Siegfried Marcus (1833-1898) is responsible for creating the oldest extant automobile known worldwide, an experimental vehicle resembling today's modern car. Built circa 1875, the car is believed to be the first vehicle powered by a four-cycle engine and the first to use gasoline as a fuel, featuring the first carburetor for a gasoline engine and the first magneto ignition. This vehicle, still operable, is now on display at the Vienna Technical Museum.

The surviving vehicle is Marcus' second car; the first was not considered road-worthy, and Marcus dismantled it; a third and possibly a fourth car did not survive.

Born northwest of Berlin in Germany, Marcus held about 76 patents in about a dozen countries, including an electric lamp (1877) and an igniter for explosives. He built and marketed internal combustion engines—first atmospheric engines, wherein the downstroke provides the power output under atmospheric pressure, and then later two-cycle and finally four-cycle engines. He first began work on a self-propelled vehicle in 1860. At the time, Austrian parts of what is now Poland had begun to produce oil; refining this oil produced kerosene, lubricating oil, and gasoline as an unwanted byproduct. Marcus began experimenting with gasoline, discovering that it could only be used as motor fuel in finely dispersed form when aspirated by the engine.

Marcus started to work on the forerunner of the carburetor in 1864 and was granted his first related patent in 1886. Called the vaporisater, this 1864 patent is proof of his using gasoline as engine fuel. See ASME website for more information