A Thunder Bay car dealership on Wednesday showed how far the company and the automotive industry have come since the first car hit the streets.
North Star Mercedes-Benz played host to a blast from the company’s past on Wednesday, when a replica model of one of the first gas-powered automobiles rolled into the dealership as part of a cross-Canada tour.
The 1886 Benz Patent Motorwagen was on display at the Walsh Street lot as part of a tour marking the company’s 125th anniversary.
North Star Mercedes-Benz general manager Dave McEwan said the Motorwagen trip is also a means to hail a new era for the company.
“This Motorwagen is touring as Mercedes-Benz unveils its new electric drive Smart Car, which we have at the dealership,” McEwan said in an interview.
“It’s a past-meets-future of automobiles kind of tour.”
Two people are touring in the Motorwagen in period costume.
Duane Clarke, dressed as the car’s inventor, Karl Benz, said the vehicle is an exact replica built by Mercedes-Benz.
Clarke said the Motorwagen came equipped with three wheels, a one-litre, .8-horsepower engine, with a top speed of 17 km/h. It seats two people.
The original ran on a fuel called hexane, which was a cleaning solution Benz purchased from a pharmacy, Clarke said.
“It was effectively a horseless carriage and the first gas-powered automobile ever made,” he said.
“Benz invented it as another means of transportation and everyone at the time thought he was wasting his energy.”
The public was encouraged to test drive the Smart Car throughout the day.