Petrol engine by Siegfried Marcus

 © Technisches Museum Wien, Photo: Peter Sedlaczek
Collection Area
Energy & Mining
Mechanical Engineering
1850 - 1899
Who invented the car? Don't worry, the tiresome question of paternity is not about to be readdressed. If Siegfried Marcus had really wanted to invent the car, it would certainly have turned out more elegantly.

Elegance is the trademark of inventions by Siegfried Marcus, both when it comes to technical solutions and in the quality of their execution. One example is this prototype of a four-stroke petrol engine from the collection of the Technisches Museum Wien (Vienna Technical Museum): equipped with a balancer and centrifugal governor, the machine still has elements of a steam engine. The proportions of the timing gear are reminiscent of the balance of moving masses. A computer simulation was created as part of a student project at the TGM Wien technical college. Tutors and students were surprised at how quietly the engine ran and also by the ‘mechanic’ Siegfried Marcus.

His patented innovations, the rotating brush carburettor and magnetic-electric ignition, belong in the Petrochemical and Electrical Engineering departments. Using a rotating brush, the ‘vaporiser’ converted liquid petroleum into an explosive air-gas mixture. This inventor proved his extensive knowledge of chemistry in his patent application and in many of his lectures.

The same applies for his ability in the field of electrical engineering. He succeeded in developing electronic ignition for combustion engines long before Robert Bosch. He, like many other competitors of Marcus, was more commercially successful with his inventions. Siegfried Marcus's engine was not a financial success. Both the engine and its inventor have a place of honour in the museum.

During the Nazi era, Siegfried Marcus was declared a non-person by historians and engineers dependent on the regime. Traces on the casing are still witness to the clumsy attempt to chisel out his name.

Gift: Motorenfabrik Warchalowski, Vienna
Date of origin: around 1885

Inv.Nr. 738

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