Built in 1886, the Patent-Motorwagen is widely hailed as the first vehicle designed from the ground up to use an internal combustion engine. Cars built before it were simply motorized horse carriages. Inventor Karl Benz received German patent number 37435 for his creation, which explains its name.
The Motorwagen was powered by a horizontally-mounted, single-cylinder engine with a displacement of 984cc. It made a little under one horsepower at 400 rpm, enough to send the Patent-Motorwagen up to a top speed of 10 mph. While the three-wheeler remained a prototype, it’s the car that every current member of the Mercedes-Benz lineup traces its roots to.
The example displayed in Volkswagen’s ZeitHaus museum (and pictured below) is a replica of the original, which has resided in Munich’s Deutsches Museum since 1906.