1896 Benz 5hp Victoria

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Lot 136
1896 Benz 5hp Victoria
Registration no. A 42
Sold for £ 221,500 (US$ 288,177) inc. premium

Lot Details
1896 Benz 5hp Victoria 1896 Benz 5hp Victoria 1896 Benz 5hp Victoria 1896 Benz 5hp Victoria 1896 Benz 5hp Victoria 1896 Benz 5hp Victoria 1896 Benz 5hp Victoria 1896 Benz 5hp Victoria 1896 Benz 5hp Victoria
1896 Benz 5hp Victoria
Registration no. A 42


  • The first internal combustion-engined car which performed with any degree of success is generally attributed to German engineer Carl Benz and was a spindly three-wheeler with massive horizontally-mounted engine. Following Carl Benz’s first faltering run in that car in the Autumn of 1885 the German Press wrote, ‘this engine – velociped will make a strong appeal to a large circle, as it should prove itself quite practical and useful to doctors, travellers and lovers of sport.’ This first effort developed not less than 0.9hp giving a top speed approaching 8mph. By 1892 Benz cars had four wheels and the Velociped introduced in 1894 had a single-cylinder engine developing 1.5hp. As well as the Velociped, which was the best selling of all Benz products, they offered the Victoria, the Vis-à-vis, the Phaeton and, rarest of all, the Sommerwagen. The Velociped was the best selling car of its day and engine refinements resulted in 3 1/2hp being developed by 1895 or so. Engine sizes were progressively increased and by 1896 a 5hp car was marketed with bore and stroke of 150 x170mm and a cubic capacity of 3 litres. Benz had many imitators and their products were built under licence by other European manufacturers such as Hurtu, Star and Marshall. In France Émile Roger was their highly successful agent, taking a high proportion of Benz output. Production at Mannheim had risen from 69 cars during the period 1885 to 1893, 67 cars in 1894, 135 cars in 1895 and by 1896 output had climbed to 181 cars. The basic Benz design was to influence motor car production from 1885 to 1900 and only the arrival of the new ‘Système Panhard’ and also De Dion Bouton’s fast-revving vertical engines was to sound its deathknell.

    This car has been well known in veteran circles for many years and was part of the famous Shuttleworth Reserve Collection at Old Warden prior to acquisition by the late Bernard Joachim Garrett in the late 1970s. As with all cars in the late Richard Shuttleworth’s collection, this car was in remarkably original condition, although missing some parts, including the lower part of the crankcase, conrod and piston, ignition system and wings. At some stage the car had previously been registered A 217. Bernard Garrett was a fastidious man with a passionate interest in Benz motor cars. Using patterns and drawings obtained from Mercedes-Benz at Stuttgart, he carefully fabricated the missing components and the car was finally completed and running in the early 1980s. On first submission to the Veteran Car Club Dating Committee in 1985, from the information then available and provided by Garrett, this car was awarded an 1893 date. In the light of further information and research, including inspection of the early Benz Sales Ledger and Build Book, (not previously known to exist), and the discovery that Hewetson had not imported the first Benz car into England until December 1895, (previously falsely claimed by Hewetson as 1894), the dating of the car was reviewed in 2001/2002 and a more correct date of 1896 was awarded to the car and agreed with its owner. Since Garrett’s death in 1989 the car remained in his family for many years and completed a further thirteen London to Brighton Veteran Car Runs in their ownership. The car has regularly taken part in other suitable events for veteran cars and is known to be a good performer on the open road.

    This handsome Victoria is finished in black livery with varnished wooden wheels, (rebuilt in 2001), and maroon chassis detail. It is powered by the 5hp, single-cylinder engine, (dimensions 151mm x 171mm), with inlet over exhaust valve arrangement, fuelled by a surface carburettor, with trembler coil ignition and two-speed gearing, with drive by belt and chain. It is equipped with leather covered mudguards, candle side and rear lamps and audible warning of approach is provided both by bell and bulb horn – and presumably also vocally in those more stressful moments on the A23! The coachwork is furnished with buttoned black leather and suspension is provided by two full-elliptic front springs with a transverse full-elliptic spring on the steering, rear suspension being by full-elliptic leaf springs. On full song A 42 is a sight to behold on the open road, its suspension working overtime. In every respect this Mannheim product can truly be described as a horseless carriage, its styling and general design harking back perhaps fifty years in carriage design.

    This highly important, pioneering German motor car comes with a comprehensive file recording detailed research carried out to establish its undoubted authenticity and accurate dating. It is offered with a V.C.C. Reviewed Dating Certificate No.1678, issued in May 2002, and comes also with a V5 registration document.

    A 42 is guaranteed to be right at the front of the grid for the London to Brighton Veteran Car Run, an event in which it has participated successfully on so many occasions.
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