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This is Absolute Genius.
Dive into a world of action, adventure and explosions.
Each show will introduce you to a different genius.
An amazing person who had a genius idea which shaped the world.
And they will inspire us
to come up with our own genius idea at the end of each show.
-But will it be any good?
-Will it be any good? It'll be...
And on today's show, we bring you up to speed on an absolute genius!
-What are you doing?!
So, get ready for the ride of your life!
Have you got a sick bag?
Today we're going to introduce you to a man whose genius idea
helped change the world by changing the way we move.
If it wasn't for this genius,
the way you guys get to school in the morning
might still involve a horse and cart...
..because this man's genius led to the invention of these.
-Oh, that's right.
He is the brains behind the first petrol-powered car.
-Ladies and gentlemen, we give you...
-A pleasure to meet you, ja!
Inspired by his genius idea,
we're going to be coming up with our own genius idea later on in the show,
which involves a bizarre build
and a ridiculous race that gets out of control.
But first, just how did Karl Benz
wheel his way into the history books?
The car is the most popular form of transport ever.
Now there are around 60 million cars made each year,
and there are over one billion cars on our roads.
But in Germany back in 1844, when Karl Benz was born,
things were very different.
Back then, the main mode of transport was the horse-drawn carriage.
Journey times were long, roads were muddy and bumpy,
and the streets were forever covered in piles of horse poo.
It was totally stinky!
At just 15, Benz started to study mechanical engineering
at university, and it was there, whilst riding his bicycle,
that he started to imagine a vehicle that could be moved by an engine -
A fellow German engineer, Nikolaus Otto,
had invented a petrol engine, but it was designed to be stationary
and could only power things like pumps and drills.
Someone needed to work out how to make it move something.
So, let's get this straight.
They had carriages that couldn't be moved without horses,
and engines that weren't designed to move anything.
-A pretty useless combination?
-Yeah, and this is where Karl Benz came in.
It was his genius idea that would help solve this problem.
And here's how.
Karl Benz's genius idea
was to invent the first ever petrol-powered car!
He harnessed the explosive power of petrol in Otto's engine
and he used that explosive power to propel a three-wheeled carriage.
The car was born. Genius!
And here it is! The first ever car!
But how does it work?...
Luckily for us,
genius car specialist Stan
is on hand.
Stan, this is an absolutely beautiful machine,
really it is, but how does it work?
Basically, it's just an engine bolted to a frame,
connected to a set of wheels by a belt,
and that's what drives it along.
Cars of today obviously look different, though.
I mean, the glaring difference is that it's only got three wheels.
-It was a lot easier to make one wheel move
than to make two wheels move together.
-No steering wheel, though - it's just this...
No, it's just a lever - or better known as a tiller.
This lever acts as a brake.
It also acts as your gear lever as well,
so it's either "go", or it's "stop".
-Fantastic. Can we have a go on it?
# Here we go! #
-It's going to be a bumpy ride - look at that look at that seat!
Yes, ladies and gentlemen,
now it's time to see Dick and Dom crash the first ever car.
Don't say that!
Sorry, no. Joking, Stan. To DRIVE the first ever car.
Here we go.
-Not too fast, now.
-There you are...
-Don't forget the brake.
-First ever car!
-Straight... up there... No, round there.
And through that way.
Somebody stop them!
-I thought it was going to go at a snail's pace!
Look at that! Look how fast it's going!
The Motorwagen has an average speed of 9mph,
but from up here, with only a stick for a steering wheel,
it feels more like 109!
-What are you doing?!
It was the first of its kind,
and used state-of-the-art technology,
so you'd think it would've been an overnight success.
But it did have its problems...
-What's that noise?
I don't know, but it's totally stalled.
So, yeah, it's broken down, which is why Benz's original car,
although it was cutting edge and amazing,
it wasn't an overnight success, because people wouldn't buy one.
-They thought the horse-drawn cart was far better than this.
Benz was about to give up on his invention, until his wife
Bertha stepped in with a genius idea to make this car a success.
In 1888, to prove him - and the world - wrong,
Bertha took the car for a spin without telling her husband!
She set off on a 66-mile journey across Germany from Mannheim,
..to Pforzheim, her mum's house.
The journey wasn't easy.
Petrol stations hadn't been invented,
so Bertha had to buy fuel wherever she could find it.
No cars meant no mechanics,
so when the car broke down, Bertha had to fix it herself.
But after over 14 hours on the road,
she finally made it to her mum's house -
she probably missed dinner, but her journey had been a success.
It was the mother of all publicity stunts.
Everyone was talking about it. News of this incredible journey
started spreading quickly around Germany.
Like butter on a hot muffin.
And it was her journey that made the car famous,
and his invention finally took off.
Right, crank it up, Rodney!
It was the start of a new era,
and by 1915, horse-drawn carriages had almost completely disappeared.
Cars had taken over.
To the honeymoon!
It's all very well and good, messing around with these cars,
but we don't really know how they work.
Ah, if only Fran, our resident genius scientist, were here
in the middle of this random cricket pitch to explain more. What?
This is Fran.
She just loves experimenting...
..to help explain the ideas of our geniuses.
And she's sure to pop up just when you really need her.
-So, you guys want to know how cars work, yeah?
Right, well, for a car to work,
you need an internal combustion engine,
and that's what Benz used on his first car.
-Oh, yes, we know about that.
-No, we don't. What is it?
Ah, right! So, basically, inside an engine, petrol and air are mixed
and lit to cause a contained explosion.
The power of this explosion pushes the pistons,
which then turn the wheels of the car.
-I have built you guys...
-Oh, what is that?!
-What is that?!
This is my version of an engine.
Cos in an engine, the explosion pushes down on pistons,
which then move the wheels of the car, which is how Benz's car moved.
Now, my engine uses burning not to push a piston...
but to push a potato.
So, this is just a massive potato launcher?
Shall we go and try it out?
-Yep, but we need more space.
So, the first thing we need to do is put a potato in.
-Mm, just poke it down.
-Are you sure this is safe, Fran?
-Yeah. Well, for now it is.
And so I'm just going to pop in some fuel.
How are we going to set that fuel on fire?
Well, I've got my launch button here,
and when I attach these wires onto these screws
and press the button...
Oh, yeah, look at that!
That will make a spark go into go inside, between my two screws,
which will light the fuel.
Don't forget, it's that button that will cause the electricity
to flow and cause the spark,
just like a spark plug in a combustion engine.
-OK, give me a countdown.
-From what, three?
-We can do that, can't we? BOTH:
-Three, two, one...
-Where's it gone?!
-Where is it?!
I think that that might have gone into space, actually.
Where has it gone?! Come on, let's find it.
We're going on a potato hunt, ladies and gents.
Potato, where are you?!
There's something that looks like a ball by that wall.
-Look at that!
-Are you serious?!
All in one piece, as well.
-That's got to be about - what, 200m?
-Yeah, about 220.
And that's exactly how an engine works,
but instead of pushing on a potato,
it's pushing on the pistons, which then turn the wheels of your car.
-Can we have another go?
-We probably shouldn't, actually.
-Probably shouldn't? In our world, that means probably SHOULD.
-Come on. OK!
-So by using petrol and pistons...
-..and not potatoes...
Benz worked out how to use the engine to turn the wheels of a car.
But not all inventions were as genius as his.
That's right - it's time for the not-so-genius idea!
In 1961, the Amphicar was all the rage.
It was part car, part boat
and was designed to be driven on land and water.
Well, not really.
Turns out the Amphicar had one major drawback -
it was made out of steel, so would rust when exposed to water!
Eurgh, my feet are wet!
And if that wasn't bad enough, they weren't very waterproof
and sometimes completely sank!
A not-so-genius way to get around!
Stupid car-boat thing!
Coming up - we build and race our own cars...
Hammering it! Oh!
just how has Benz's genius invention changed from this...
Ready? ..to...this! Look at that!
This is the Motorwagen of today,
made by the company that Benz went on to create - Mercedes-Benz.
is our genius Benz expert,
and he's going to tell us how Benz's first three-wheeler
turned into this.
It's great to see the old and the new side by side.
I mean... But this one looks totally different to this beast over here.
What's this car got to do with this one?
It's got everything to do with it.
This is the original three-wheeler, and it's that inspiration,
Benz's original design, that created today's car, this one.
They're both petrol engines,
although that has a one-cylinder horizontal engine at the back,
whereas the more modern car has got eight cylinders up front.
Ah, look at that!
This, the original three-wheeler, has a separate chassis here,
onto which the engine is mounted,
and that's quite similar to what we've got here.
This is a steel chassis, whereas the modern car has got aluminium,
which is a little bit lighter
and, in this version, quite a lot stronger.
So, over all these years, this has evolved into what
we see Lewis Hamilton driving around on a Formula 1 track now.
Doesn't that actually twist your mind,
the fact that Lewis Hamilton drives a souped-up version of this?
Well, we've had a ride on the three-wheeler,
but can we go in that one?
You're very welcome. The keys are in it.
It's not every day you get to hear that, is it?!
-Right! Shall we?
So, more than 125 years on,
we're going to drive the Benz car of today.
We'll be put through our paces
our genius driving instructor.
But before she lets us get behind the wheel,
she's going to show us what this car can really do.
On the circuit,
it's all about looking as far ahead as you possibly can.
Brakes are very good, aren't they?
The engine noise is just growling away.
The Motorwagen has a top speed of 12mph,
whilst this beast has a top speed of 186.
You can feel the G-force on it.
But this car weighs around three times as much as the Motorwagen,
so the engine has to work a lot harder.
So, we've seen how fast it goes with an expert driving it,
but what about us?
Use as much track as you possibly can.
Over to the left.
Tiff gives us an extreme driving lesson
before we go head-to-head to see who can do the fastest lap.
There you go.
Which includes controlling the car
under extreme dangerous driving conditions.
-Where are me windscreen wipers?
-Just on this side here!
So, whenever you're ready,
I'm going to start the stopwatch
from as soon as the wheels start moving.
Good, so start to slow the car down as you come onto the wet circle.
That's it, good.
And on the brakes.
Good, good. Back in a straight line.
OK, wait. Good.
-Feel sick yet?
-No. Loving it.
-Absolutely loving every second of this.
Last corner. Good, bit of power, then come to a brake.
Stop, stop, stop.
-How did that feel?
If I can be honest, I wimped out a bit on the black ice.
I'm not going to tell you the time yet.
Move over, Dom.
The race is on.
Three, two, one, go!
Just feed the power on.
Get ready now for the surface to change.
OK, slow it down a little bit. Slow it down.
-Right. That's it.
Come straight off.
Make sure your wheels are straight.
What kind of speed have we been going about this track, then?
So, you're doing about 70 round the corners.
-Which most people do on the motorway in a straight line.
That's it, stop now.
Good. How did that feel?
Makes your heart beat really fast.
-The adrenaline's unbelievable.
-I'm pretty convinced that you beat me by about five, ten seconds.
No, I think... You always win, mate.
We're talking about LESS than a second.
-There's actually half a second between you.
You're not going to do the X Factor thing
where they just leave loads of time between telling us, all right?
you did you competitive lap in 1:14.
You did your, like I said, it was extremely close...
I told you!
Well done, Dom!
I told you. He always wins!
And while I get over my loss, here's some facts about cars.
It's the Genius Top Five.
At number five - the longest ever limo measures 30.5m long
and has 26 wheels.
That's about as long as three double-deckers!
You should see my other limo.
At four - the longest ever traffic jam
was thought to have happened just outside Beijing in 2010.
It was a massive 62 miles long and lasted over 12 days!
How did they go to the toilet?
At three - did you know, petrol isn't the only thing
that can fuel a car?
You can also use chocolate, coffee,
used nappies, cow poo
and even turkey guts.
Eurgh! That's "fowl".
At two - the smallest roadworthy car
measures in at just over 1m high
and was made from an old Postman Pat ride.
-Ha, that'd be a good fit for you!
And, at one - motor-mouth DJ Chris Evans
is the owner of one of Britain's most expensive cars.
He paid just over £12 million for this very rare vintage Ferrari.
Benz may have invented the car, but it was another genius
who worked out how to make them quicker and cheaper.
Yeah, and his name was Henry Ford.
Your parking's shocking, by the way.
I mean, I've told you time and time again, just use the car park,
like everyone else.
While Benz was still making his cars one at a time by hand,
the American Henry Ford had his own ideas.
In 1914, he created the first continuous moving assembly line.
His genius idea was that assembly workers stood still
and repeated the same task
as machines moved the car along the line.
This process was much more efficient.
Cars were now cheaper to build and cheaper to buy,
and, before you knew it,
every Dom, Dick and Harry had one on their drive.
The assembly line process is still used today.
60 million cars are produced worldwide every year,
and we're here at this car plant to find out how it all works.
Richard is our genius helper,
and one of the 4,500 employees
at this Jaguar Land Rover plant.
It's massive! How big is the site?
This site is 300 acres, which is about the size,
or just over, 300 football pitches.
-Where do you start when you want to make a car in this place?
Well, before we get to this point, you start in the press shop,
where massive coils of metal, really thin, are sort of stretched out
and then cut into shapes, which form your panels.
-This is half a car?
-This is half a car.
-Oh, yeah, look...
-So, the wheel would be here?
-Dopes that mean...
..I sit here.
Well, wrong side of the car, but you get the idea.
Engine in the front there.
And that's all cut out from one sheet of metal?
-It is, yeah.
It took Karl Benz around a few days to build a car.
Henry Ford got that down to one and a half hours!
But now, with a combination of assembly workers, robots
and, er, us...
a brand-new car comes off the production line every 82 seconds!
But before they leave the factory,
they need to go through some quality control tests,
to make sure they're roadworthy.
Can't wait to get to Dorian's house. Hope she's made a Battenberg!
Sorry! Just going over the cattle bridge.
Right, so this is a bumpy road, I presume.
Well, that wasn't too bad.
# Shake what your mama gave ya! #
Sorry about that, I took a left turn instead of a right!
You got a sick bag?
So, once the cars have been through all 400 stations
and everybody's happy, then the cars are loaded onto trucks
and sold all around the country - and the world.
Mm. Things have changed a lot since Benz's day.
Forget the horse-drawn carriage,
this is now a multi-billion-pound industry.
Everyone wants a car.
Yes, cars have never been more popular.
In fact, there are so many cars being driven around the world
that there's a big debate
about the effect they're having on the environment.
Ahem! Moving on.
What are you doing?!
So, we've driven the first ever car...
Move out the way!
We've learnt how a car engine works...
-I think that might have gone into space.
..and been for a spin in a supercar of today.
Absolutely loving every second of this.
So, time to reveal our genius idea.
Now, Benz was famous because he invented the petrol powered car.
Now, he did this by taking an engine, adding it to a wagon,
and then the wagon moved.
And let's not forget his genius wife Bertha,
who took his car on a famous journey and made it a success.
-we thought we'd do the same.
-Well, sort of.
Our genius idea is to build our own petrol-powered cars
and put them to the test by racing them around a track.
Our challenge - inspired by Bertha's incredible journey,
we'll face a few obstacles along the way.
Our problem - there can be only one winner...
so, let the best driver win!
So, we've drawn our designs for our genius idea
and how we'd like it to look...
..and now we just need someone to help us build them,
and I think we know just the guy for the job.
Meet genius engineer Grant Cooper -
he's already helped us build a tank
and a steam-powered tandem bike.
So, if anyone can bring our ideas to life, it's him!
Basically, we want to make a car, but we want to customise it as well.
Aerodynamic, the main thing. It's got to be fast.
When we shared a flat a few years ago, Dom used to hog the shower...
-..and I used to hog the bath. I prefer a bath.
So, we literally went for a bath and a shower.
-What do you think?
-I think we can work with that.
It doesn't look particularly aerodynamic,
but if we can get those on a good base,
like a go-kart or something like that, we can make that work.
All right! Shall we go to the workshop?
-Excellent, let's go.
How on earth are we going to turn that into a bath?
I think we strip it down, take all the parts off...
Rip all the panels off, take the seat out, steering wheel off...
I'm going in.
I love a bath, me.
My design had flowers on it. What's this?!
So, our cars are all finished.
All we've got to do now is recreate Bertha's famous journey.
-Yeah. She travelled for 66 miles across Germany.
She proved that Benz's car was a success,
and now we've got to try and do that with ours.
Although I don't think ours will change the world like Benz's did.
Yeah, but where are we going to recreate this epic journey?
Er, um...Monaco, in France?
I LOVE Birmingham!
Yes, Birmingham - the setting for this epic journey.
It's my Geschwindigkeit Bad, which is German for speed bath...
Versus my Schnell Dusche, German for fast shower.
After Lap 2, we must stop to refuel our vehicles,
just as Bertha did on her journey.
After Lap 4, we must make a second pit stop
and flex our muscles by changing a tyre.
Bertha was forced to make repairs, and so we must do the same.
And finally we'll need to cross the all-important finish line!
May the best banger win.
Good luck, boys!
So, our tributes to Benz are ready to race,
and if you look carefully,
you can see that what we've built is pretty much like Benz's first car -
the engine is at the back, the chassis is pretty much the same,
except ours are a little bit different on top.
"A little bit different" is an understatement.
MUSIC: "The Chain" by Fleetwood Mac
They look like ridiculous vehicles. There's that racing music, though -
that means there's going to be a race. I'm keen to find out who wins.
Dick's had an embarrassing defeat earlier -
can he claw it back?
Music swelling, lights changing colour - green, go, go, go!
And they're off to a great start,
Dick and Geschwindigkeit Bad have taken the early lead.
And it's worth mentioning Geschwindigkeit Bad is a bath,
it's aerodynamic, it sort of looks like a car.
Dominic is driving a giant shower!
Whoa! The music's stopped, something wrong.
I think Dick's stalled.
Thumbs up if you feel like a twit...
Look at this sportsmanship - Dom, his great friend,
is coming back to see if he can help out.
Ha, ha, ha! Look at that, can you believe it?!
Dick just doesn't care. Straight off.
He wants his name on the trophy, if there were a trophy.
There's not one, we can't afford it.
Time to refuel, boys!
Time to refuel, says Benz.
He's made of cardboard, but he can talk.
Ooh! Don't press that button if you don't need to.
-And the anger there...
-Fuel's going in.
Quick as you like.
-I'm in the lead by about that.
-Dick a little bit cocky, there.
I bloomin' waited for him!
They're both out together!
Oh, but there goes Geschwinde-whatever-it's-called Bad.
It's German for bath or something.
Round the corner - well done, Dick.
And Dom's taken the lead! And he's a great driver, Dom.
-He's such a competent - whoa, there!
Drive on the road, not the barriers, Dom.
I'm going to do this!
Dick's got the advantage, but he's about to enter pit stop two.
And the tyre-change could change everything!
You little squeaky worm!
"Right, you little squeaky worm!"
Very often cried at F1 championships across the world.
-Dom's off to a flying start there.
-This is hard work.
"This is hard work," says Dick. Madness.
All they've got to do is change one tyre -
thank goodness the men in black T-shirts are there.
They know what they're doing.
These two are technically a pair if idiots.
Ooh, that's a lovely shot of a wheel wobbling away.
Is it OK?
"Is it OK?" Says Dom.
Bye-bye! He's off.
He's better with a spanner than me!
"Better with a spanner"? You're just a spanner.
All Dom's got to do is get to that finish line first.
Dick is on the move again, but can he catch up with only one lap to go?
Sliding it round! Really want to get him!
Come on, look at this!
Bad corner-handling by Dom, there,
he's losing precious seconds. Dick is right on his tail.
Is he going to take it?
I can't believe it's this close, it really is an extraordinary race.
There's nothing in it - oh, my goodness, it's too close to call!
We don't know, it's too close to call. We need an action reply.
Somebody with some slow-mo vision, I don't know what you do,
just press a button and make it happen, man.
Yes, indeed, it's Dominic over the line!
We've seen it in slow-mo, he's done it again.
Victory for Schnell Douche!
You got it by about that!
No, you... Get...!
By that, again!
So, we've got under the bonnet of a real, true genius,
and it's been an amazing journey finding out more about the guy.
Mm, Benz's genius changed the world we live in by changing the way
we travel, and who knows?
-Maybe we've created vehicles of the future.
-Yeah, yeah. No, no.
We salute you, Benz! You are an absolute genius.
-One more lap?
Come on, then!
-I'll beat you this time, I'm telling you!
It smacked me in the face!
What are you doing?!
Let me get it straight!
What's all that? What's all the black stuff?