Enrico Bernardi patented the Motrice Pia, his petrol combustion engine (one cylinder, 121

Saturday 5th August 1882

Enrico Bernardi patented the Motrice Pia, his petrol combustion engine (one cylinder, 121.6 cm3 displacement), almost at the same time as German Karl Benz (who patented his engine in October 25th, 1882) and Gottlieb Daimler (who patented it on December 16th, 1883). It is difficult to establish who was the first man in the world who invented the automobile, but we can say that Bernardi gave a significant impulse to the concrete application of the petrol engine too.

Bernardi had started his studies on internal-combustion engines in 1876 and in 1882 he built the “Motrice Pia” (named after his daughter) which he fitted to a sewing machine. In 1884 he presented it to the National Exposition of Turin.

That same year he fitted the engine to his son’s tricycle, who drove it around the roads of Quinzano: Benz will fit his invention two years later, in 1886, to a three wheel vehicle suitable for a grown man.

The Motrice Pia is a lightweight, horizontal single-cylinder engine, four strokes, modified and perfected Otto cycle engine, with a cast iron double wall cylinder, water cooled, 44 mm bore, 80.5 mm stroke, 122,5cc displacement producing 0,024 bhp at 200 rpm, 10 kg weight; the petrol comes from a 2-decilitre small parallelepiped fuel tank near the crankcase.

In 1889 Bernardi built a more powerful engine called “Lauro”, which was fitted to his son’s bicycle in 1892, creating a petrol fuelled motorcycle, and in 1894, in Padova, he introduced a three wheel car.

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