Benz 1.5 hp motor car, 1888.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Designed by German engineer Karl Benz (1844-1929), this car was one of the first in the world to be put into production (ie not a 'one off'), and it is believed to be the oldest surviving motor car in Britain. It was one of four cars built and sold under license by Emile Roger in Paris to an improved design created by Benz in 1887-1888 (of similar type to his first car of 1885). A four-seat three-wheeled vehicle with wooden wheels, it is powered by a single-cylinder 1.69 litre four-stroke Benz industrial engine placed horizontally over the rear axle. The Science Museum, London, purchased the car in 1913 for £5 from a vendor in King's Lynn, Norfolk. Its history from manufacture to Museum purchase is still unclear, excepting that it bears an Emile Roger maker's plate.