Siegfried Marcus

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Siegfried Marcus
Marcus sitzend.jpg
Siegfried Marcus 1831-1898
Born 18 September 1831
Died 1 July 1898
Nationality Austrian
Engineering career
Significant advance automobile

Siegfried Samuel Marcus (18 September 1831 – 1 July 1898) was a German-born Austria-Hungarian inventor and automobile pioneer of a Jewish descent. He was first to use a gasoline-powered engine to propel a car.


Marcus was born in Malchin in Mecklenburg-Schwerin into a Jewish family. He moved to Vienna, the capital of the Austrian Empire, in 1852.

Blasting machine, "Wiener Zünder" (Viennese Igniter), 1864

From 1856 to 1898 he worked as a self-employed manufacturer of scientific instruments in this city. He developed an interest in electricity and worked as a lighting technician, too. His chief improvements include telegraph systems and ignition devices, such as the "Wiener Zünder", a blasting machine.


Marcus was buried at the Protestant Cemetery at Hütteldorf, Vienna. Later, his remains were transferred to an "Honorary Tomb" of Vienna's Central Cemetery.

Because of Marcus' Jewish ancestry, his name and all memorabilia vanished under the Nazis. The memorial in front of the Vienna Technical University was removed. After World War II, the monument was rebuilt. In 1950, the Second Marcus Car underwent a major restoration.

Marcus was removed from German encyclopedias as the inventor of the modern car, under a directive from the German Ministry for Propaganda during World War II. His name was replaced with the names of Daimler and Benz. The directive (in German) read as follows:

Reichsministerium für Volksaufklärung und Propaganda

Geschäftszeichen. S 8100/ 1

Berlin W8, den 4. Juli 1940
Wilhelmplatz 8-9

An die Direktion der Daimler-Benz-A.G. Stuttgart-Untertürkheim

Betrifft: Eigentlichen Erfinder des Automobils
Auf Ihr Schreiben vom 30. Mai 1940 Dr.Wo/Fa.

Das Bibliographische Institut und der Verlag F.A. Brockhaus sind darauf hingewiesen worden, dass in Meyers Konversations Lexikon und im Großen Brockhaus künftig nicht Siegfried Marcus, sondern die beiden deutschen Ingenieure Gottlieb Daimler und Carl Benz als Schöpfer des modernen Kraftwagens zu bezeichnen sind.

Marcus' cars[edit]

About 1870 he put an internal combustion engine on a simple handcart. This appliance was designed for liquid combustibles and made him the first to propel a vehicle by means of gasoline. Today, this car is known as “The first Marcus Car”.

In 1883 a patent for a low-voltage ignition magneto was given to Marcus in Germany. This design was used for all further engines, including that of the “Second Marcus Car” of 1888–1889. It was this ignition, in conjunction with the “rotating brush carburettor”, that made the Second Car's design very innovative.

In 1887, Marcus started a co-operation with the Moravian company Märky, Bromovsky & Schulz. They offered two stroke and — after the fall of the Otto-Patent in 1886 — four stroke engines of the Marcus type.

Second Marcus Car of 1888 (Technical Museum Vienna)

In 1888-1889 Märky, Bromovsky & Schulz built the "Second Marcus Car", which can still be seen in Vienna's Technical Museum. This car made Marcus well-known all over the world. For a long time it was a common understanding that the “Second Car” already existed in 1875 — even today a widespread falsehood. "It was uncertain for a long time whether his car was ready to drive already in 1875 or only in 1888/89. Today the later date is considered for sure." (transl., Austria Lexicon, Vol. 2, Vienna 2004; Österreich Lexikon, Bd. 2, Wien 2004) There is no proof for an origin prior to 1889. This car was named a Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.[1]


Marcus was the holder of 131 patents in 16 countries. He never applied for a patent for the motorcar and, of course, he never held one. He never claimed to have invented the motorcar. Nevertheless, he was the first to use gasoline to propel a vehicle, in the simple handcart of 1870 (First Marcus Car), but it is uncertain whether the famous Second Marcus Car ever ran before 1890.


This information is out of the newest scientific Publications of German and Austrian Historians (all in German):

  • Ursula Bürbaumer, "Das erste Auto der Welt?", Wien 1998, Erasmus Verlag.
  • Horst Hardenberg, “Siegfried Marcus, Mythos und Wirklichkeit”, aus der Wissenschaftlichen * Schriftenreihe des DaimlerChrysler Konzernarchivs, Bielefeld 2000, Delius & Klasing Verlag.
  • Norbert Böttcher, "Siegfried Marcus", Teetz 2005, Hentrich & Hentrich Verlag.
  • Ursula Bürbaumer, Johannes Steinböck, Horst Hardenberg, Gerhard Schaukal und Ladislav Mergl), in Helmuth Grössing (Herausgeber) “Autos-Fahrer – Konstrukteure”, Wien 2000, Erasmus Verlag.
  • Austrian Research Centers, Dissertationsdatenbank, Bürbaumer Ursula, Siegfried Marcus in Wien, 2003, Internet.

Hardenberg’s book (Horst Hardenberg, “Siegfried Marcus, Mythos und Wirklichkeit”) was awarded by the Austrian Academy of Science in 2001 as “Book of the month June 2001”.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Siegfried Marcus Car (ca. 1875)". Landmarks. American Society of Mechanical Engineers - Attention: ASME gives an incorrect construction date of 1875! -. Retrieved 2009-01-19. 

External links[edit]