May 6, 1889 – First car in Paris is outshone by Eiffel Tower opening

On this day in 1889, Gottlieb Daimler debuted the first motorcar in Paris, France, at the onset of the Paris World Exhibition. This event is well known for a much bigger, in all senses of the word, attraction: the grand opening of the Eiffel Tower. Not to be outdone, Daimler enhanced his display by lining it with 30 light bulbs powered by a Daimler engine connected to generator. At the time electric lighting was revolutionary, as was the automobile. It’s fair to assume his display was shocking to most. However, the car didn’t garner as much attention as he wished.

His vehicle, known as the Paris wire-wheel car, featured a twin cylinder V-engine reminiscent of modern motors. A four speed manual gearbox, the first of its kind, put power to the wheels. First gear allowed the vehicle to travel at up to 5 km/h, while fourth provided a top speed of 16 km/h. The design would become the model for most transmissions used in automobile manufacturing for years to come.

Gottlieb helped build the world’s first four wheeled automobile just three years earlier in partnership with Wilhelm Maybach. While the car was less than sensational at the Paris debut, something else happened there that would stoke growth in the French auto industry. Gottlieb Daimler secured a business partnership with Louise Sarazin, the widow of Daimler’s long-standing French business colleague, Edouard Sarazin. Their agreement allowed her to acquire the licensing rights to Daimler engines, but only if they bore the name “Daimler.” This move would result in a massive boost to the French auto industry. Before long, more cars equipped with “moteurs système Daimler” drove along French roads those those in Daimler’s native Germany.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The best way to support This Day in Automotive History is to become a monthly subscriber on Facebook.

Subscriber benefits include:

  • Most importantly, you’re supporting great content about Automotive History
  • Early access to content on Facebook
  • Discounts on our store
  • Special live videos

If you learned something today, please buy me a beer!

No payment method connected. Contact seller.


This Day in Automotive History - the book!

This Day In Automotive History

By Brian Corey

This book tells fascinating tales, bringing individual days to life with short stories, photographs and illustrations.

This Day in Automotive History

This Day in Automotive History is a transportation history, car history and general automotive history website dedicated to providing informative and entertaining content.

We encourage you to share our page and connect with us on Facebook or sign up for our automotive history newsletter. If you’d like your car featured, reach out to us!


Connect with us on Facebook or sign up for our automotive history newsletter to keep in touch.

Love automotive history? Support this site!


Sign up for our automotive history newsletter to keep in touch.