Monterey | Lot 363
1886 Benz Patent-Motorwagen Replica
$60,000 - $80,000 USD | Offered Without Reserve
| Monterey, California
14 August 2021
- 12% of the hammer price up to and including $250,000
- 10% of the hammer price in excess of $250,000
- A beautifully crafted tribute to one of the most important machines in automotive history
- Built by John Bentley Engineering of England to exacting, accurate standards
- A running and driving replica; fully functional 954-cc horizontally mounted single-cylinder engine
- Presented in new condition; freshly removed from its original shipping crate after years of storage
Many contraptions can make a claim to the title of “first automobile,” yet historians generally agree that the Benz Patent-Motorwagen is the first such machine to have achieved production success. Completed in 1885 by German inventor Karl Benz and patented the following year, approximately 25 were built between 1886 and 1893. This small first step would lead to the company now known as Mercedes-Benz.
With its delicate tricycle configuration and tiller steering, the Patent-Motorwagen appears primitive, yet the design is surprisingly sophisticated: Its lightweight 954-cubic-centimenter, horizontally mounted single-cylinder engine featured electric ignition and produced 0.75 horsepower; output is fed to a belt drive through a large, horizontal flywheel at the rear, finally reaching the rear wheels via dual chain drives.
Although the priceless original Patent-Motorwagen is retained by Mercedes-Benz, John Bentley Engineering of England built a series of exacting recreations. The most authentic replicas of their kind, they are accurate in every way—although unlike the original, these were designed to run on white gas, rather than the archaic petroleum product called ligroin.
This example, finished in satin black paint closely resembling period-correct paintwork, was acquired by the consignor directly from Mr. Bentley. Such was the quality of Mr. Bentley’s work that approximately 100 of these Patent-Motorwagen replicas (also painted in satin black) were commissioned by Mercedes-Benz Classic around the turn of the millennium, a testament to the quality of his craftsmanship. After completion by Bentley Engineering, each car was road-tested—using a separate set of wheels and tires to ensure each example was delivered in flawless condition—before being carefully crated and shipped to their owners.
A meticulously crafted tribute to one of the most important machines in automotive history, this 1886 Benz Patent-Motorwagen Recreation is offered in beautiful new condition, having only recently been removed from its original shipping crate after many years of storage, returned to running condition, and prepared for photography ahead of its sale. Accompanied by detailed operating instructions, it is sure to carve out a three-wheeled niche in any collection, whether one’s interests lie in significant Mercedes-Benzes, antique automobiles, or mechanized curiosities.