Lot Number
30
1912 Benz 8/20 HP Tourer


CHASSIS NO: 15537
• Exceptionally rare and engaging pre-WWI Benz
• Wonderful color combination, brightwork, and accessories
• Uncommonly sporting and sophisticated open coachwork
• One of the most impressive brass era cars from Benz
• Final restoration stages and reassembly by Bruce L. Adams in 2016

1,950 cc L-head inline four-cylinder engine, Zenith carburetor, 8 HP (taxable), 20 HP (rated output), four-speed manual gearbox with shaft drive, solid front and live rear axles with semi-elliptic leaf springs, mechanical transmission brake with rear two-wheel parking brakes; wheelbase: 2,850 mm (112.2”)


In 1906, Germany’s newly imposed motor vehicle tax levies fell heaviest on elite-level, large-displacement cars. Mannheim, Germany’s Benz, formally named Benz & Cie, responded with a smaller 2.4-litre 10/18 HP car introduced in 1908. This economical design came in neatly just below the stipulated 10 PS taxation threshold and appealed to the growing new market from Berlin’s taxi drivers. This Benz model initiated the time honored tradition for Benz and later Mercedes-Benz taxis in Germany, which continues unbroken and stronger than ever today.

The success of the 10/18 spurred development of an even smaller car, the 1,570-cc 6/14 PS of 1910, and an intermediate-level car, the 8/20, of the type seen here, which was produced from 1912 until 1921. In addition to its tax-friendly specification, the 8/20 was a capable performer for the era, with a top speed of 62 kilometres per hour, or nearly 40 mph. And, with its rugged nickel-steel frame by Krupp, the 8/20 was referred to as “The Quiet Benz.” Today, the 8/20 continues to be one of the most significant Benz models, a lightweight, yet robustly built and economical brass era automobile that contributed to the fortunes of Benz in the years prior to its merger with Daimler to form Mercedes-Benz in 1926.

This very attractive 1912 Benz 8/20 Tourer carries very interesting history, and it is believed to have been part of a three-car group sent to Australia in 1913 to compete in a trans-Australian endurance race with Aussie sportsman Hugh McIntosh. This provenance is strengthened by the sill plates of the Benz, identifying the manufacturer of its handsome coachwork was Thomson’s Ply. Ltd., a coach building firm associated with endurance-type motor racing in Australia during the early 1900s. During a practice run, one Benz was wrecked, subsequently being pressed into service as an implement on an Australian farm. The outbreak of World War I during 1914 forced cancellation of the race and the two remaining machines existed quietly thereafter in Australia until Daimler-Benz AG acquired one, which now resides in the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart. This 8/20 was eventually restored and participated in the 300-mile Mercedes-Benz rally commemorating the 100th Anniversary of Mercedes-Benz and its predecessor companies in 1986. Next, the 8/20 was sold to Japan, spending a number of years in a private collection there until it was eventually sold and imported to the United States in the 1990s.

During the mid-1990s, the Benz was acquired by well-known Mercedes-Benz and BMW parts vendor Rainer Wittich of New Orleans, Louisiana, during whose tenure the Benz was displayed for some time at the Mercedes-Benz USA headquarters. During the early 2000s, the Benz was displayed by Mr. Wittich at the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance, with the car photographed for publication the Mercedes-Benz Club magazine, The Star. From 2006 to 2013, the 8/20 was owned by Robert Beckmann of North Carolina, who used the Benz sparingly for parades, local events, and shows. Mr. Beckmann then sold the Benz to the Consignor, who commissioned a restoration in his home state of Texas, later entrusting the vehicle to noted Mercedes-Benz restoration specialist Bruce L. Adams of North Carolina to perform the final stages of the restoration, reassembly, and detailing of the vehicle, with the work completed in 2016.

As offered, this 1912 Benz 8/20 Tourer is simply handsome throughout and ready for touring and showing enjoyment, with abundant brass brightwork contrasting beautifully with the striking wet-sanded and buffed Burgundy paint finish, black folding top, and fresh button-tufted black upholstery. Wonderful additional highlights include the brass “serpent” bulb-type horn, side-mounted spare wheel and tire, wood-rimmed steering wheel, and an array of brass lamps. Offered from a passionate Mercedes-Benz collector, this 1912 Benz 8/20 Touring is a thoroughly engaging and highly capable pre-WWI brass era car and a fitting exemplar of one of the most notable Benz models of the time.

1912 Benz 8/20 HP Tourer
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