The first Mercedes-Benz is reborn: The original Benz Motorwagen is now available as a replica to drive!

<i>Image: iStock</i>
<i>Image: iStock</i>

The Benz patent motor car was the world’s first automobile and now Mercedes-Benz has revealed a Benz Patent Motorwagen Replika. On January 29, 1886 Karl Benz patented the first automobile – the three-wheeled Patent-Motorwagen.

Later in the same year about 100km away Gottlieb Daimler patented an internal-combustion engine and began with the construction of a four-wheeled horseless carriage.

A part of automotive history

At the time neither Benz nor Daimler were aware of the other’s work. The rest is (automotive) history.

In commemoration of this milestone of engineering, Mercedes-Benz had produced a series of fully functioning replicas of the Benz Patent-Motorwagen in 2001 / 2002, mainly for museum and other public exhibit purposes.

INFOGRAPHIC: Fastest cars through the decades

This particular example was built in 2002, was recently acquired, inspected and serviced by the Classic Center and presents with full functionality. The car belongs to our Concours Edition.

These classics in rare original condition with low mileage and vehicles that have been carefully restored by Mercedes-Benz Classic experts in Fellbach/Stuttgart.

According to Mercedes-Benz, Carl Benz's patent No. 37435, granted by the imperial patent office for this “vehicle with gas-engine drive” was the automobile’s birth certificate.

Benz did not content himself with outfitting an existing carriage with an engine. In his Patent Motor Car, engine, chassis and drive train were designed from scratch. With gasoline engine, ignition, cooling, transmission, wheels and brakes it has been the archetype of every automobile built since then.

He could not devise a convincing solution for the steering though.

Benz later said: "As I was unable to solve the theoretical problem involved in the steering, I decided to build the vehicle with three wheels."

In 1893, Benz was to find an answer to the steering problem too. Carl Benz long worked in secret on his invention, for fear someone could beat him to it. At first, he only dared to go out on the road at night, in the immediate neighbourhood of his factory.

Night after night, he gradually learned to take command of his vehicle and its technology, cautiously extending the length of the spins he took with it. He waited until the car was patented to venture to present it to the public.

On July 3, 1886, a Sunday, he took a drive around the old ring of ramparts which surrounds Mannheim. In the midst of baffled Sunday walkers he went rattling around the town, while his son Eugen ran alongside the vehicle with a bottle of gasoline to keep it fueled.

The next day, all Mannheim talked about Carl Benz and his invention. The consistency Carl Benz shows, when he develops his idea of a “horseless vehicle” into a product suitable for daily use, brings it on the market, and makes his vision a reality, is his crucial achievement.

He had the idea of a motorcar, designed it, built it, tested it, patented it, put it on the market, produced it in series, developed it further, and thus made his innovation usable. 

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