Max Hertel established a motor business in Chicago, USA in 1895. He entered one of his early cars in a race held in Chicago on 28 November 1895 but it failed to start due to mechanical problems. In 1898 Hertel established the Oakman Motor Vehicle Company in Philadelphia with a factory at Greenfield, Mass. Hertel later made Impetus cars in France. An 'Oakman-Hertel Motor Wagon' of very similar design to the Museum's example was displayed at the New York Cycle Show held at Madison Square Gardens, New York in January 1899.

This four-wheeled motor buggy was made by Max Hertel of Chicago, U.S.A., to the order of Canadian-born Melbourne businessman John Pender. Pender later wrote that he had ordered the buggy during a visit to North America in 1896. The vehicle arrived in Melbourne by steamer on 8 November 1897 and is believed to be the first motor vehicle imported into Australia. Mr Pender took the machine for its first trial run from Brunswick to the Coburg tram terminus on Saturday, 13 November 1897. In December 1897 it broke down and caught fire briefly near the Carlton Football Ground in Royal Parade suffering serious damage. The vehicle is powered by a twin-cylinder 3.5 horsepower (2.6 kw) internal-combustion engine. In February 1898, Mr Pender and his Hertel were still such a novelty that the Melbourne Herald reported to readers that:

'There was a motor car seen about town yesterday, in which were Mr J. Pender of Brunswick and Mr Edwin Phillips, Patent Agent. Mr Pender who was in charge appeared to have thorough control of the vehicle and steered round the corners and through the many vehicles at the intersection of Swanston and Collins Streets, with great skill.' So novel was the concept of an internal combustion vehicle that it was described as operating on "the fumes of oil". In fact it ran on a spirit known as stove naptha, with a fuel consumption of 9 miles per gallon (31.3 litres per 100km). Pender donated the Hertel to the Museum in 1914.

John Pender was a well known Melbourne manufacturer of horseshoes and horseshoe nails with a large business in Tinning Street Brunswick which produced most of the machine-made horseshoe nails used in Victoria. Production was estimated at about 40 million nails per year in the early 1890s. Pender also exhibited his wares at the 1888 Melbourne Centennial Exhibition.

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