The mysterious ‘barn discovery’ might be the world’s oldest car

A car recovered earlier this year in Germany might be far older than originally realized. The vehicle, according to experts, predates the Benz patent automobile. Forensic specialists will now use carbon dating to determine the precise year from which the model dates.

This spring, members of the Wolkramshausen-based Ost-Klassiker Klub discovered something unusual in a Leipzig neighborhood in former East Germany. They spotted a car with an internal combustion engine and three wheels in a dark corner of a garage amid a mound of garbage. A German, Hubert Rein (69) purchased the automobile from the villa’s widow for a few hundred euros.

When the dust settled, they realized it was one of the world’s earliest automobiles. According to the Dresden Transport Museum personnel, the vehicle, which resembles the renowned three-wheeled Benz patent automobile from 1886, might potentially be the world’s oldest car, claims German broadcaster MDR.


The chassis of this car, which is presently on display at a secret location in Thuringia, is composed of wood, while the frame of Carl Benz’s Patent Auto already has a tubular steel frame. On the other hand, experts at the Mercedes-Benz museum claim that ‘their’ automobile is the world’s oldest.

Physicists and forensic specialists are now looking into the tricycle after famous experts in the area of antique autos couldn’t figure it out. Trace components in the metal might reveal the period of processing. Fabric and leather remnants are also investigated.

This radiocarbon dating – also called C14 – was also used, among other things, to discover how long ago the primeval man ‘Ötzi’, found in the Alps, lived. A team of five scientists is working on the automobile, according to the German newspaper Bild.

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