Amelia Island

The Ritz-Carlton
8 - 9 March 2019
Lot 287

1886 Benz Patent-Motorwagen Recreation


$76,160 USD | Sold

United States | Amelia Island, Florida



Serial No.
  • Purchased new by the current owner, a Mercedes-Benz retailer
  • Never used, but routinely maintained and regularly oiled
  • One of about 90 built for Mercedes-Benz Classic
Please note that this lot is sold on a Bill of Sale.

The Benz Patent-Motorwagen is widely regarded as the first internal-combustion automobile. Karl Benz was awarded the German patent DRP 37435 on 29 January 1886 for the first vehicle to be propelled by a motor. Although Benz’s wife Bertha financed the development process, she was unable to hold patent rights under German law. Benz officially unveiled his invention to the public on 3 July 1886 at the Ringstrasse in Mannheim, Germany.

About 25 Patent-Motorwagens were built between 1886 and 1893. The horizontal single-cylinder, four-stroke 954-cc engine produces .75 hp at 400 rpm. The original vehicle remains extant and was restored in 1906 and donated to the Deutsches Museum in Munich, Germany. Ironically, later in 1886, some 60 miles away, Gottlieb Daimler patented an internal combustion engine beginning construction of a four-wheeled horseless carriage. Neither Benz or Daimler was aware of the other’s work. The rest, as they say, is history.

The three-wheeler is somewhat similar to a horse-drawn carriage, most notably a small front wheel and larger rear wheels. Construction uses a lightweight tubular frame with wire spoke wheels. Steering is by rack and pinion connected to a tiller.

This exacting replica is one of approximately 90 examples commissioned by Mercedes-Benz Classic in 2001 and 2002. The replicas, built by Englishman John Bentley, were to be used for educational and promotional purposes, as well as for museum and public exhibit. This example was built in 2002 and was purchased by the consignor during the time which he was an authorized Mercedes-Benz retailer. It has been in his possession since new and has never been operated, though it has been regularly oiled to keep the mechanical parts moving freely.

One can only image what a stir this “contraption” must have caused in 1886. It will no doubt do the same today some 132 years later.