A team of five experts is currently attempting to determine if what looks like a rusty trike that was found in a garage in Germany is in fact the world’s oldest automobile worth millions.
Five of the top experts in Germany are currently studying the vehicle, equipped with a protective gown, rubber gloves, a UV lamp, a scalpel, a laboratory tube and a laptop.
The ‘Ost Klassiker Klub’ (‘East Classic Club’) – the classic car collector’s association led by Hubert Rein, 69, that discovered the vehicle rusting away in a garage – is attempting to determine if the vehicle really is about 130 years old.
The team of five experts includes Rein as well as Stuttgart graduate restorer Dr Gundula Tutt, who analyses matter under a microscope, forensic scientist Sebastian Hoffmann, and Dr Ronny Friedrich, 45, of the Curt Engelhorn Centre for Archaeometry in Mannheim, who specialises in determining the authenticity, age and origin of things.
They are joined by automobile historian Frederik Scherer, who said: “We can only form a judgment after months of evaluating the samples in the laboratory.”
The discovery of the vehicle, which is believed may be up to 130 years old, took place in the city of Leipzig, which is located in the eastern German state of Saxony, when an unnamed 86-year-old pensioner decided it was time to get rid of her dead husband’s old possessions.
Before anyone realised that it could be worth millions, it was snapped up for few hundred euros by the Ost Klassiker Klub, which is located in the village of Wolkramshausen in the central German state of Thuringia, according to German daily Bild.
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The chairman Rein is quoted as saying: “She wanted to get rid of her deceased husband’s old things from her villa, but unfortunately couldn’t say anything about the car.”
The ‘car’ actually more resembles a tricycle, with a single wheel at the front, but experts at the annual classic ‘Concours d’Elegance’ car fair that took place in the town of Schwetzingen from 3rd to 5th September assessed the vehicle and determined that it was 130 years old, with all its original parts, and was in fact a more sophisticated machine than the world’s first production automobile, the ‘Benz Patent-Motorwagen’ (1885).
Rein has not ruled out that it could be the world’s oldest car, even older than the first Benz. He said: “Not excluded. Benz was already working with metal, building a frame out of steel tubes. Our model consists largely of a wooden body, spokes and the sprung seat.”
The vehicle does not have a number plate and it also lacks a serial number, with the experts of the opinion that it was probably built as “a prototype”, but it is currently unclear who designed it and put it together.
They suspect it could be linked to Opel designer Friedrich Lutzmann in Dessau, a city located in the German state of Saxony-Anhalt, because its green colour and yellow lines are reminiscent of products designed by the famous German inventor.
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