With this invention, Enrico Bernardi granted Italy with a great discovery in the motor field; on 5th August, 1882 he experimented the “Motrice Pia”, the first petrol fuelled combustion engine (shown in the window), almost at the same time of Karl Benz (patent of 25th October, 1882) and of Gottlieb Daimler (patent of 16th December, 1883).
It is difficult to establish who was the first man in the world who invented the automobile, but it can be said that also Bernardi gave a significant impulse to the concrete application of the petrol engine.
Bernardi had started his studies on the piston engines in 1876 and in 1882 he built the “Motrice Pia” (his daughter’s name) which he fitted to a sewing machine.
In 1884 he presented the “Motrice Pia” at the National Exposition of Turin and in the same year he fitted it to the tricycle of his son, who rode along the roads of Quinzano: Benz will fit his invention two years later, in 1886, to a three wheel vehicle suitable for man.
The Motrice Pia is a lightweight, single horizontal cylinder, four strokes, modified and perfected Otto cycle engine, with a cast iron double wall cylinder with a cooling water jacked, 44 mm bore, 80.5 mm stroke, 122.5 cc cubic capacity, 0.024 bhp at 200 rpm, 10 kg weight; the engine is fuelled from a 2-decilitre small parallelepiped fuel tank on the crankcase.
In 1889 Bernardi built the high speed LAURO engine, which he fitted in 1892 to his son’s bicycle creating a petrol fuelled motorcycle, and in 1894, in Padova, he introduced the three wheel car.
Enrico Bernardi, emeritus professor at the Padova University, dedicated his whole life to the studies, research and application of his inventions.
At the end of his life he connected his passion for technical innovations to the experimentation and research in photography, optics and chemistry related to the colour in the Lumière chromo positive process.