Enrico Bernardi and the invention of the automobile

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A man to whom an interesting – but little known – museum is dedicated.

Verona-born but Paduan by adoption, Enrico Bernardi is credited with inventing the automobile in 1884, just a few months before the legendary names Benz and Daimler produced their machines. To get an idea of Bernardi’s engineering genius, you just have to know at the age of only 12 years old he had invented differential gears.
Even though a technical institution in Padua is named after him, very few in the city know about his role in the advent of the motor car. However, this might be about to change. The university-run ‘Enrico Bernardi’ Car Museum, at 1 Via Venezia, has a display of examples of the main internal-combustion engine vehicles that defined the history of the motor car in Europe during the second half of the nineteenth century.

Photos by Museo di Macchine Enrico Bernardi.

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