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Four-wheeled legend. St. Petersburg resident restores Russian Empire capital’s first automobile


Its not a car, but, rather, a genuine piece of art on wheels. Its been 120 years since the first ride through the streets of Russia which did not involve horses.


Its worth mentioning that residents of St. Petersburg of the late 19th century were the first to witness the unusual vehicle. Although, the reaction upon meeting the unique “Motorwagen” hasn’t changed nowadays. Alexander Odintsov found out how many unique parts have survived

If you’re riding this car, you have to be wearing a tux and a cylinder hat. Shubert playing on the radio is a must too. It seems this car can surprise in any epoch. Motorwagen Benz, the father of Russia’s automotive movement, made its first trip through the streets of St. Petersburg. And now, 120 years later, it is back in motion. Although not too many things have remained from the original car.

Dmitriy Kozlov, owner of the vintage car: “I had remains of the chassis, remains of wheels. Had to change a lot of things. Of course I installed new wheels and perfected the body – put more reliable and serious parts. Headlights though are original once, as well as springs“

Dmitriy Kozlov basically inherited what remained of the legend from his family. It took him a year and a hundred-thousand-ruble investment to restore or, if you may, fine-tune the vintage car. Electric light diodes have replaced carbide and oil lamps. The engine is also different. It doesn’t need to mix water and fuel now. Before, it used to consume 150 liters of the former and 30 liters of the latter per 100 kilometers. The wonder car’s safety is not provided by servants anymore.

Dmitriy Kozlov, owner of the vintage car: “I had to install alarms on it. It works. To keep children willing to have fun away from it”

Ad you can’t really have fun with it if you like speed. The “Motorwagen” of today has only 2 horse powers and a maximum speed of 30 kilometers per hour. Such modest numbers are necessary – otherwise, it would not have been registered. But the owner – a real patriot – assigned it to the 178th car license region. Although he says that its no longer a car, but a work of art in the museum city.

Alexander Odintsov, reporter: “Having a horseless carriage in St. Petersburg used to be an immense luxury. At the end of the 19th century, “Motorwagen” was worth 3 thousand marks. That was the equivalent of three horse carriages. When the car hit the streets first, people were surprised – what kind of wonder was this. But nowadays the reaction is not really different”

Motorwagen Benz was shown to the general public of St. Petersburg by architect Zhirgalyov. On August 9th 1895 he made a bold move having driven the car through Tsaritsyn Lug, today known as Marsovo Pole, to his datcha outside of Gatchin. Back then, the city only had 15 mechanical carriages, ad only 3 of those – luxurious automobiles. Which was small number even for those times. 120 years later St. Petersburg only has one such legend.