The first Italian

The first Miari & Giusti car was a tricycle which, in addition to its revolutionary engine, also featured a carburettor setting never seen before, air and petrol filter systems and an interesting engine lubrication system.

Digging into the history of the car one finds almost unknown, but certainly not unimportant, events. Every company, whether it met with a happy ending or not, deserves to be remembered and this site aims to tell the story of those who created products, as well as innovations which, however, failed to reach us or rather they survived but under different names, brands and stories. The story I am going to tell you now is from a very, very long time ago, around 1882 to be precise, when the Veronese nobleman, Enrico Bernardi, produced the first internal combustion engine in world automotive history, named Pia after his daughter. His invention pre-dated Karl Benz, who presented his engine on October 25, 1882, by two months, and that of Gottlieb Daimler, whose engine was first seen on December 16, 1883, over a year later.

Bernardi’s venture continued in 1896, when, together with two Venetian engineers, Giacomo Miari and Francesco Giusti, founded what would be the first manufacturer of Italian cars, Miari & Giusti; another Italian car company was already active at that time, Costruzioni Meccaniche di Saronno (founded in Italy by the German company Maschinenfabrik Esslingen), but their production was based on licensed cars, the Peugeot Type 3 model, whilst the newly-founded company from Padua produced all its components internally and independently.

The first Miari & Giusti car was a tricycle which, in addition to its revolutionary engine, also featured a carburettor setting never seen before, air and petrol filter systems and an interesting engine lubrication system. The driving method and three-wheel layout were less innovative, which certainly limited the success of the car, relegating its innovations into the background.

In 1898, despite the excellent build quality and great reliability of the cars, the maker was put into liquidation, but Bernardi did not give up, taking it over and continuing to produce his tricycle, also later on with four wheels, under the new name Bernardi Motor Company. Despite all the goodwill and commitment, however, the attempt failed again in 1901, when Bernardi’s company also went into liquidation. Production is estimated to have been about a hundred cars, mainly produced in the three-wheeled version.

The innovations introduced by Bernardi certainly opened the door for many manufacturers who came later, designing cars with engines and solutions similar to  his and, in turn, other solutions were introduced, some still there and others not, but in any case if the modern car has arrived at levels of safety standards, performance and sophistication, it is partly thanks to those who, as Bernardi did, proposed original solutions with courage, daring and determination despite all the limitations of the time and, even if it went wrong, every single car on earth still uses the idea of innovation combined with freedom and speed, which characterised the phenomenon of the motor car from the very beginning.

Text by Tommaso Lai

Translation by Norman Hawkes

Copyright © Cars Forgotten Stories. All rights reserved.


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