8-9 September 2013

Mercedes Collection


Lot 101

1886 Benz Patent-Motorwagen Recreation

  • Chassis no. 049

Sold for £39,200

0.88 bhp, 954 cc horizontally mounted single-cylinder engine, belt primary drive and chain final drive, rear leaf-spring suspension, and mechanical transmission brake. Wheelbase: 1,473 mm

Whilst it is a frequently disputed point as to who actually conceived the first motor car powered by an internal combustion engine, there is no contention that Karl Benz created the first truly successful one. By 1880, Benz had created a working two-stroke engine, and within a few years, he had organised Benz und Cie: Rheinische Gasmotorenfabrik at Mannheim in Germany. By the close of 1885, Benz had produced a single-cylinder, four-stroke gasoline engine and fitted it to a three-wheeled carriage that he designed specifically for his engine.

This first Benz had two driven rear wheels powered by a horizontally mounted single-cylinder engine that developed 0.75 horsepower and, amazingly, a speed of eight mph was recorded on one of the very first test runs. As might be expected, the first Benz vehicles were somewhat primitive in design, but nonetheless, they incorporated many revolutionary features, such as an electric ignition, a mechanically operated inlet valve, and a differential gear. Benz patented his car on 30 January 1886, and that spring, the Benz was seen on the streets of Mannheim.

The 1886 Benz Patent-Motorwagen offered here is an exact replica built by Mercedes-Benz in 2002, and it was later sold through the Mercedes-Benz Classic Center. It is crafted identically to the original in absolutely every detail, save one: the original ran on a petroleum product called ligroin, which is not readily available at one’s local service station, and the modern recreation is designed to operate on standard petrol.

This particular example shows few signs of use, and it is accompanied by an invaluable owner’s guide to this model, which was produced by the Classic Center to aid new owners in learning the operation of this charming machine. Beautifully presented, it is a delightful example of early automotive history. A complete collection of Mercedes-Benz vehicles begins here.


Please note that this car is one of the 50 cars that was produced by John Bentley Engineering, manufactured on behalf of Daimler Benz.

Alexander Weaver

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Alexander Weaver joined RM Sotheby’s in 2011 as a Car Specialist after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born... read more

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Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a Car Specialist after more than a decade in the collector car hobby. Gradua... read more

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Barney’s interest in classic cars began at an early age after being introduced to his father’s all-original 1965 Porsche 911. Barney l... read more

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Tonnie Van der Velden joined RM Sotheby’s European division in September 2015 as a Car Specialist. A lifelong enthusiast, Tonnie... read more