Lot 151 - 1886 Benz Patent Motorwagen Tribute
|Estimate||£28,000 - £35,000|
1886 was an interesting year for world firsts; Coca Cola was invented, delicious Yorkshire Tea was launched and what is often considered the very first motor vehicle took to the roads, costing a not inconsiderable $1,000 ($26,337 in today's money).
The Benz Motorwagen was awarded its eponymous patent number in November 1886 and was held in Karl Benz wife's name. Bertha and Karl Benz chose to publicise it in a unique manner. She took No. 3, supposedly without her husband's knowledge and drove it on the first long-distance road trip to demonstrate its feasibility as a means to travel long distances. She took her teenage sons, Eugene and Richard, on a ride from Mannheim through Heidelberg and Wiesloch (where she took on ligroin as a fuel at the city pharmacy making it the first filling station in history) to her hometown of Pforzheim.
As well as being the driver, Bertha Benz acted as mechanic on the drive, cleaning the carburettor with her hat pin and using a garter to insulate a wire. As the brakes wore down, she asked a local shoemaker to nail leather on the brake blocks and in doing so, invented brake lining along the way. After sending a telegram to her husband of the arrival in Pforzheim, she spent the night at her mother's house and returned home three days later covering 194km in total.
Patent 37435 was then unveiled to the public on July 3, 1886, on the Ringstrasse in Mannheim. About 25 Patent Motorwagens were built between 1886 and 1893 and, whilst this is not one of them, it does represent a painstakingly constructed reproduction. Accurate to the original plans and using the same materials, it is constructed using steel tubing with woodwork panels, steel-spoked wheels and solid rubber tires. Steering used a toothed rack that pivoted the un-sprung front wheel and fully elliptic springs were used at the back along with a live axle and chain drive on both sides. A simple belt system served as a single-speed transmission, varying torque between an open disc and drive disc.
The engine is 954cc, single-cylinder, four-stroke unit with trembler coil ignition producing a heady 2/3hp at 250rpm. It was an extremely light engine for the time, weighing about 220lb, and although it's open crankcase and drip oiling system would be alien to a modern mechanic, its use of a pushrod operated poppet valve for exhaust would be quite familiar. A large horizontal flywheel stabilises the engine's power output with an evaporative carburettor controlled by a sleeve valve to regulate power and engine speed. Fully operative and with delivery mileage only recorded, this represents a vehicle of iconic importance and should be part of any collection.
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