When Karl Benz applied for a patent on January 29, 1886, for his “vehicle with gas engine operation,” little did he realize that his invention would change the world. Patent DRP 37435 is regarded as the birth certificate of the automobile. The Benz Patent Motor Car, test drives of which were already carried out in autumn 1885, was the world’s first Automobile.
The first internal combustion engine automobile that performed with any degree of success is generally attributed to German engineer Karl Benz and was a spindly three-wheeler powered by a massive, horizontally-mounted, single-cylinder engine. Displacing 954 cc, it produced a modest .75 hp at a lazy 400 rpm. Although it retained certain features of the horse-drawn carriage, most notably its small front wheel and larger rear wheels, the first Benz was constructed on a lightweight tubular steel frame and used wire spoke wheels rather than a heavy wooden frame and artillery spoke wheels.
Steering was by means of a simple rack and pinion, connected to a tiller at the driver’s end. In an era when horse-drawn transport predominated and even the humble bicycle was a novelty, the impact of the Benz Patent Motorwagen’s first appearance on the streets of Mannheim on July 3, 1886, can only be imagined.
It was not until 20 years later that Benz realized the true significance of his first automobile. Retrieved from its resting place at the Mannheim works, the original Number 1 Patent Motor car was restored in 1906 and donated to the Deutsches Museum in Munich.
This faithful replica of the 1886 Benz is one of 90 or so manufactured by Mercedes-Benz in Germany in 2002/2003 and distributed by the Mercedes-Benz Classic Center. Ordered by the vendor, its sole owner from new, the vehicle comes with all the correspondence between Mercedes-Benz USA and the owner concerning its commission and purchase. Also included in the sale is its promotional literature and specifications, and the replica comes with its original wooden shipping crate and custom-built trailer.