- The Washington Times - Friday, March 1, 2002

Want to be the first in your neighborhood to own the car that changed the world? Replicas of the three-wheeler with which Carl Benz opened a new dimension in mobility are now being crafted in Germany.

They will be offered to collectors and Mercedes-Benz dealers by the M-B Classic Center USA.

It was on Jan. 29, 1886, that Benz applied for a patent on his "vehicle with gas engine operation. Patent DRP 37435 is regarded as the birth certificate of the automobile, and also marks the beginning of Mercedes-Benz.

After its first outing on July 3, 1886 the first public drive of a road vehicle to be described by the press the No. 1 Patent Motor Car languished in the back yard of Benz & Cie in Mannheim, Germany.

It was not until the three-wheeler's 20th anniversary in 1906 that Benz recalled the striking qualities of his first vehicle.

He had the original vehicle restored and subsequently donated to the Deutsches Museum in Munich.

The Classic Center is following in the tire tracks of this automotive legend.

Exact replicas of the three wheeler are now being crafted in Germany.

Made of the same contemporary materials as the original and painstakingly handcrafted like the original, these replicas convey the unique appeal of the original.

Like the first Patent Motor Car, the replica Benz three-wheeler is driven by a water-cooled single-cylinder rear-mounted engine with a displacement of 954 cc.

Its power output of 0.75 hp at 400 rpm catapults this vehicle thanks to its lightweight steel tube frame and delicate spoked wheels weighs only 585 pounds to a breathtaking 10 mph.

One difference between the original and replica vehicles is that, due to the challenge of locating a ligroin station to obtain its original naphthalike fuel, today's three-wheeler can also be operated on standard gasoline.

Peer Spieth, general manager of the Classic Center, advised, "In keeping with the Mercedes tradition of 'lifelong service,' replacement parts for the vehicle and technical assistance are available should they be necessary."

More than 30 Mercedes-Benz dealers in the United States have already taken the opportunity to acquire this newest, yet oldest, Benz an icon of automotive and Mercedes-Benz history for their showrooms and heritage activities. (Suggested price: about $49,500 plus shipping.)

The Classic Center is created along the lines of the original in Fellbach, Germany, to provide a complete, specialized service for M-B classic vehicles (models 20 years out of production, The center (www.mbusa.com/classic) is the first to be established by an automotive manufacturer in the United States. Via its toll free number 866-MBCLASSIC (622-5277) the center currently provides parts purchase assistance and technical information.

With a move to California scheduled during 2003, the center's operations will expand to include the purchase and sale of classic vehicles and appraisal and repair services. An inventory of classic vehicles will be on hand and available for use in creating the Mercedes driving experience from the past.

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