Test Drive with the Benz Patent-Motorwagen on the Occasion of the 175th Anniversary of Bertha Benz’s birth (video)

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Today marks the 175th anniversary of the birth of Bertha Benz, who drove the Benz Patent-Motorwagen in August 1888 on a journey from Mannheim to Pforzheim, demonstrating the reliability of the machine invented by Karl Benz and presented in 1886.

Photo/video: Răzvan Măgureanu

3 May 2024 marks the 175th anniversary of the birth of Bertha Benz, the wife of Karl Benz, who drove the Benz Patent-Motorwagen from Mannheim to Pforzheim in August 1888, demonstrating the reliability of the vehicle known as the first modern automobile. On the occasion of Bertha Benz’s birthday, we witnessed a test drive of a Benz Patent-Motorwagen replica. After 146 years, a replica of the Benz Patent-Motorwagen has once again been running on the road, and you can see in the video below how the first modern car starts and drives. The event took place at the Tiriac Collection museum in Bucharest, Romania, on the occasion of the presentation of the Mercedes-AMG One hypercar with serial number 84 purchased by billionaire and former tennis player Ion Tiriac. 

25 units of Benz Patent-Motorwagen were built between 1886 and 1893, but none of them are still in original condition. There are instead six original replicas, one of which is at the Tiriac Collection in Bucharest. The Benz Patent Motorwagen was a tricycle with a rear-mounted engine. The first version used a 954 cc (58.2 cu in) single-cylinder four-stroke engine that produced 0.67 PS/250 rpm and weighed 100 kg. The vehicle received patent number 37435, for which Karl Benz applied on 29 January 1886. Thanks to this patent, Karl Benz is considered the inventor of the modern automobile. Karl Benz presented his invention on 3 July 1886 on the Ringstrasse in Mannheim when he drove it and achieved a maximum speed of 16 kph. 

Benz continually improved the car, and the number 2 model had a 1.5 PS engine, while the number 3 engine developed 2 PS. With the Benz Patent-Motorwagen No. 3, Bertha Benz made the journey from Mannheim to Pforzheim over a distance of 106 km (66 miles) with her two children, Eugen and Richard, who were 15 and 14 years old.