On the roads of Germany there are many ’94 Benz cars out there, but only one that’s from 1894. Despite the advanced age of the car, it’s still street-legal and is still taken for regular drives by the owner, Karl-Heinz Rehkopf, a German businessman and collector of old cars and motorcycles. Rehkopf enjoys taking his antique car out for a spin and it’s the oldest horseless carriage still allowed to be on the street in Germany.
The Benz Victoria was an early version of the car and doesn’t have all the features we expect our cars today to have. It doesn’t have a steering wheel, instead a crank is used to direct the vehicle.
There are two gears and the driver must shift to neutral before the break can be applied. This sounds like it could be dangerous, but never fear: this car has 2 breaks, one on the floor and a stick hand break on the side.
The car also has 2 horns, a squeeze-operated one of the side and then the familiar klaxon horn that makes the classic “a-oooga!” noise we associate with old cars. Like nearly all cars of the era, this one has an open top. These breezy cars required driving gloves, hats, and even special blankets for the coldest months.
Before Rehkopf purchased the car in 2009 it had been in the same family for 4 generations, which is about the closest thing you can get to a “one owner” used car with a vehicle this old. The original owner got the first speeding ticket in town for going 29 km/hour (about 19 mph), which at the time must have seemed like such a terrifying velocity to people used to horse and buggy travel. However, this 1-horsepower champion certainly isn’t breaking any modern records for speed that’s for sure.
The Benz Victoria was created 9 years after the first Benz, the 1885 Benz Patent-Motorwagen. The Victoria model was designed to be cheaper and easier to build so that more cars could be sold, defining much about how the automobile industry still operates to this day.
Unlike other vehicles of this age that are usually displayed in museums, Rehkopf enjoys taking his Victoria out on a regular basis. See more about this antique car in the video below.