Thursday, May 22, 2008


Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot built a steam driven gun carriage in Paris, it barely moved (2 MPH) and only ran 10 or 15 minutes at a time.

Oliver Evans, finding no clients for the high pressure steam engine he invented, uses it to build an amphibious vehicle, as a dredge. It lumbered over land and paddled upriver. The first self powered traction engine (save Cugnot), dredge, and amphibious vehicle, all in one first attempt.

Francois Isaac de Rivaz of Switzerland invented the first known internal combustion engine, running on hydrogen and oxygen. In 1813 he tried to build a vehicle on the concept (without apparent success).

Goldsworthy Gurney, inventor of Bude Light, builds a few workable (but short lived) steam road carriages in England.

The dawn of practical steam powered mass-transit trains and boats.

Joseph Henry, a math professor in Albany NY, invented the electric motor in his quest to understand electro-magnetics. It resembled an electric teeter-totter.

Thomas Davenport, a blacksmith in Vermont, read about Henry's motor in Silliman's Journal. He played with the concept and made it spin. Davenport saw his invention as a replacement for steam to drive locomotives, and used it to make a small model electric rail car. Several Europeans designed similar prototype motors and dynamos (i.e. Hippolyte Pixii 1832).

Jean Joseph Etienne Lenoir, of Belgium, patented a two-stroke gasoline engine.

By this time most mills and factories had stationary steam plants that powered the machinery through networks of belts, pullies, and shafts. the early gas engines were built as a substitute for steam

Lenoir put his engine on a vehicle, said to run 1 1/2 MPH. He sells several hundred engines but no cars.

Zenobe-Theophile Gramme patented the first practical Dynamo, Paris.

George B. Brayton patented the Brayton Ready Motor. Made for stationary applications. It burned a gas, mixed with compressed air, on a hot mantle-like grid, in the cylinder.

Nikolaus August Otto Patented the four-stroke engine in Germany. The engine was made to run by his engineer Gottlieb Daimler.

The Centennial Exhibition was held in Philadelphia. Anchored by an enormous 1,600 HP Corliss steam engine (destined for the Pullman factory) the exhibit celebrated of the steam age and the American recovery post Civil War. Many were inspired by what they saw. Col. Pope saw a British bicycle and within 15 years was the worlds largest bicycle maker. George Selden saw the Brayton engine and begin to think how it might be used to pull a carriage. There were electrical displays but, outside of telegraphy, arc lights, and electroplating (electricity's first known application), electricity remained a curiosity.

George Selden filed the first US patent for a (two stroke) liquid hydrocarbon fueled carriage in the US (granted 1895 after intentional delays to avoid a lapse of patent before demand arose).

January 17th: Edison was awarded a (carbon filament vacuum tube) light bulb patent. The incandescent light became popular over the next decade as the lamps became more affordable. The commercial generation and distribution of electricity for lighting and light rail created the infrastructure for the electric car. Edison had to fight for clear patents and eventually (1892) the strongest plaintiffs were merged to become General Electric.

Charles Jeantaud, with help from Camille Faure (inventor of the pasted plate battery), builds an electric vehicle in France. The car is made from a Tilbury style buggy with a Gramme motor and the (Faure's patent) Fulmen battery. Over the next twelve years he continued to modify this same platform installing a British motor in 1887, and used a Swiss motor with a tubular plate battery built by Tonate Thommasi in 1893.

Elwell-Parker Ltd. formed in October at Wolverhampton England to make the Parker designed high capacity rechargeable batteries. They soon expanded into dynamos, motors, and controllers. Thomas Parker the engineer and Paul Bedford Elwell the finance.

W. Ayrton & J. Perry of England build an electric tricycle with two large wheels at the rear, with the right one driven, and a small wheel up front (the first electric wheelchair), with electric lights.

Andrew L. Riker drops out after the first year of college and experimented with attaching an electric motor and battery (that he built) on a Coventry bicycle in his parent's basement.

Thomas Parker built his first electric vehicle (England).

Gottlieb Daimler (with Wilhelm Maybach) and Carl Benz built gasoline vehicles. Daimler and Benz merged in 1926 but the two men never met. The Mercedes brand came from a daughter of early Daimler distributor Emil Jellinek.

N. S. Possons builds an electric tricycle for the Brush Electric Co. of Cleveland, OH. It has an electric headlight and features the Brush Co.'s rechargeable battery.

Immisch & Company of London built a dogcart, four passengers dos-a-dos, full elliptical springs front and rear. Belt drive to the right rear wheel with an Immisch motor bolted to the underside of the carriage. The car had central pivot steering by means of a spur and crown gear.

M. M. Slattery of the Fort Wayne Jenny Electric Light Co. built an electric tricycle with a shunt wound motor.

William Morrison built the first US four wheeled electric vehicle, in Des Moines IA, to demonstrate his lead battery.

John Lambert makes a gasoline tricycle in Ohio City OH, he found no customers.

The "World's Colombian Exposition" opened in Chicago introducing the age of electricity to millions. Morrison's car was there and impressed Albert Pope, and most of the other people who made early cars, leading to the proliferation of electric cars in the late 1890's and early 1900's.

The Duryea brothers built their first gasoline car. It had a top speed of 12 mph.

Alexander E. Brown, with capital and administration by Fayette and Harvey Brown, established Elwell-Parker Electric Co. in America as an adjunct to Brown Hoisting Machine Co. 7-1/2% ownership was retained by ECC Ltd.

May to August was a worldwide bank panic leading to recession. 503 US banks failed.

Henry B. Morris and Pedro Salom Built the Electrobat, it ran at 15 mph. Later they redesign the Electrobat (with some help from Walter Baker's axles and bearings) first as a racecar then as an electric hansom cab. They built about a dozen cabs before being purchased by Isaac L. Rice of Electric Storage Battery. Combined with Pope (Columbia) and Riker, these companies were the foundation for the Electric Vehicle Company and the "lead cab" syndicate (1899).

Louis Antoine Krieger started making electric horseless carriages in Paris.

William C. Anderson moved his carriage company to Detroit with financing from his new partners, lumber baron William M. Locke and railroad equipment wholesaler William A. Pungs. Just ask for Bill.

America's first auto race was held in Chicago, on Thanksgiving Day following a snowstorm. Charles Duryea fought the dreadful road conditions over the 54.36 miles to emerge as the victor, averaging 7-1/2 mph, easily beating the only other finisher, a Benz Velo. The Morrison car was there but the extra rolling resistance, plowing through the snow, caused the motor to overheat, even though the air was freezing. An Electrobat II was entered but could not manage the distance without several battery changes, so it just made a demonstration run. Both electrics won prizes.

Thomas Parker built an electric bus, with hydraulic brakes, featuring his series/parallel motor control system.

September 7, 8, & 11, At the Rhode Island State Fair (Narragansett Park), in a series of five-mile heats, a Riker (best average 26 MPH) and a Morris & Salom Electrobat II (best average 26.2 MPH) beat four of the third generation gasoline Duryeas (best average 22 mph).

Hiram Percy Maxim (son of Sir Hiram S. Maxim) was hired (1895) by Hayden Eames to design the Columbia Electric Buggy for the Pope Manufacturing Co, the dominant maker of bicycles. The first car Maxim built was a gasoline tricylce, but Albert A. Pope was not impressed. He said, "You'll never get people to sit over an explosion". In April 1896 they introduced the first practical, commercially available, electric car. Built with bicycle technologies of steel tube, ball bearings, and wire wheels. The car was the first to use the Maxim designed worm and sector steering gear. Top speed was about 12 mph, the weakness then as always was the battery. Maxim believed that the internal combustion engine was the future. Pope favored electrics. By the turn of the century (as the Electric Vehicle Company) they had become the leading manufacturer of electric vehicles when they produced as many as a thousand taxis (based on the Electrobat and Riker cabs). After the failure of that enterprise, the company was to lead the Selden patent suit against Ford. They went bankrupt in 1907, and lost the suit in 1911. The patent lapsed in 1912.

American Electric Vehicle Co. Chicago IL. Incorporated early 1896 by (MIT grad in electrical & mechanical engineering) Clinton Edgar Woods, with capitol stock of $250,000 they had a car on the streets by May. The car featured Baker designed ball bearing axels, solid rubber tires, and twin motor chain drive at the rear wheels. By 1897 C. E. Woods was involved in a new company under his own name. American became Waverley.

The Belgian gun maker Pieper started making electric cars in 1889; in 1896 the son Henri made the "Auto-Mixte" a parallel hybrid with one mode at a time.

Elwell-Parker started marketing series wound, low (36-72) voltage (industrial motors ran at 110/220 volts, traction motors for streetcars ran at 200-600 volts), high amperage, direct current motors for battery-powered transportation. Designed by M. S. Towson at the suggestion of Theodore Willard (of Willard Battery). Clients included Babcock, Baker, Columbia, Johnson-Hewitt, Strong & Rogers, Waverly, and Woods.

Justus B. Entz, chief engineer at Electric Storage Battery (Philadelphia), designed a gas car, with electric drive transmission, built as the proto-type Columbia Mk IX by the Pope Manufacturing Company. Hiram P. Maxim unintentionally destroyed this car on its test run. This design was eventually made as the Owen Magnetic.

Alexander Winton started selling the first commercially successful gasoline cars in the US. By he years end he had sold 22 cars

The Stanley Brothers Built their first proto-type steam car. The following year they started production.

The Baker Motor Vehicle Co. was established by Walter C. Baker and Frank White. They started making a small (2 pass.) open car; Thomas Edison (who did not drive) bought the second one.

Camille Jenatzy, in a modified Jeantaud car breaks 65 MPH (April 29) in his torpedo-bodied car "Jamais Contente". in 1901 he made some gas electric hybrids.

Ferdinand Porsche designs his first car, an electric, with a hub-motor at each driving wheel; the racing version was capable of 35 MPH.

Charles "Mile-A-Minute" Murphy rides his bicycle over 60 MPH, with a little help from the Long Island Railroad's draft.

Rudolf Diesel introduced his new engine, running on peanut oil, at the Paris exposition. On display were 176 gasoline, 40 electric, and 21 steam cars. The majority of electrics on display were from the U S. Bixio electric cabs were popular with the affluent attendees.

Andrew Riker won a speed contest at 24.29 mph over fifty miles in Babylon New York.

The Pan-American Exposition was held from May 1st to November 1st. The fair was lit by the power of Niagra Falls and was centered on a tower of lights. President McKinley was shot, then driven to the hospital in a Riker electric ambulance. Neither survived the year.

Edison patented a nickel-iron battery, it needed improvement.

Peter Cooper Hewitt patented the mercury vapor rectifier, making the conversion of alternating current, to the direct current required to charge batteries, cheaper and more efficient.

The Studebaker Brothers build their first 20 electric cars.

Porsche made a hybrid version of the Lohner electric.

The Columbus Buggy Co. started making electric cars. Personnel included Clinton Dewitt and Harvey S. Firestone, Eddie Rickenbacker, Lee Frayer, and George M. Bacon.

May 31st the Baker Torpedo is the first car to have an aerodynamic body that enclosed both driver and platform. Under the torpedo shaped body was tandem seating for a driver steering in the front, and an electrician behind switching the battery as the car gained speed. It had a 12 H.P. Elwell-Parker motor. In a speed test the car hit 80 mph then crashed killing two spectators. Although retired from public speed contests, the car was said to have gone 120 mph.

One could buy a gas Oldsmobile for $650, a Stanley steam Runabout for $650, a Cadillac for $750, the first model A Ford for $750, a Baker electric Runabout for $850, the Columbia Mk III was still available for $1,500, or a Buffalo electric Stanhope for $1,650.

Krieger teamed with Brasier (of same ownership) to make a Parisian hybrid.

The US finally out-produced France to become the world's largest automobile maker, a record held until 1980 when the torch was passed to Japan.

Rauch & Lang of Cleveland was a leading maker of luxury carriages. They chose electric propulsion for their luxury horseless coach. This was likely the tipping point for Anderson finding the new money to start making the Detroit Electric.

William C. Anderson recapitalized the Anderson Carriage Company to make cars under the Detroit Electric brand. George M. Bacon from the Columbus Buggy Company was lead design engineer. Bacon chose the Elwell-Parker motor/controller. It remains to date as the most efficient motor/control system for battery electric propulsion.

A Stanley steam car with a torpedo body set a new land speed record of 127 MPH. Electric car builders give up the speed tests.

Anderson delivered an electric Coupe to a Miss Grove of Chicago, shipped September 30, 1907. By the end of 1907 five Victorias and Five Coupes had been shipped. The early cars were the model A or B Victoria, model C two-passenger Coupe, and model D four-passenger Brougham. The Coupe and Brougham were fully enclosed. The Brougham had the distinctive curved glass front quarter windows, and carriage style body; this was to be the classic signature design. Most earlier Broughams followed horse drawn design and put the driver high and outside, as if they still had to look over the horse. From the start Detroit Electrics were built with the driver on the inside. The Coupes were similar to the Rauch & Lang or Baker, but those cars had straighter lines, and the suicide doors that were characteristic of the Cleveland coachbuilders. Anderson's big seller at this time was a light one-seat, one-horse buggy that sold for twenty-five dollars.

Edison finally introduced his improved nickel-Iron battery.

In October Henry Ford started production of the model T, marking the beginning of the end for many low price US car builders, however it was no world-beater at first. The same year he bought his first Detroit Electric, a model C coupe. It was for his wife Clara and had a special child seat for Edsel.

Anderson bought the controlling 92-1/2% interest in Elwell-Parker Electric Co. from Brown Hoist for about half a million dollars, Towson negotiated the other 7-1/2% from ECC Ltd. thereby securing exclusive use of their designs and patents for an efficient DC motor and control system.

Edison chose Detroit Electric (and Bailey) to introduce his improved "nickel-steel" alkaline battery (patent 1901, improved 1908). It was not too popular due to its higher initial cost (an additional $600 or more). And a charging inefficiency of 30% (it's like a third of the gasoline runs down the gutter when you fill your tank). The first Edison battery was installed February 16 in an all red model L shipped to Denver. In 1911 as many as half the cars were shipped with the Edison battery, by 1912 demand was tapering off.

The recently formed Electric Vehicle Association of America standardized the EV charging plug with one type in two sizes.

The Ford family bought their second Detroit Electric. According to the shipping ledger it was sold to Edsel Ford. It was a model D Brougham shipped March 8th 1910 with a blue leather interior, a silk satin headliner, and an all blue exterior. The battery was built at the Anderson factory with Willard Plates.

Anderson Carriage Co. became Anderson Electric Car Co. Car model designations go from letters to numbers. This was a year of great transition for the company. A staggering 23 models were offered, as most of the body types were available with any of the three chain drive systems, or the new shaft drive system.

Charles Franklin Kettering invented the electric starter at his Dayton Electric Co. (DELCO) reducing the advantage of electric cars over gas.

This was the model year where Anderson got its act together and started producing the classic broughams that would be their best sellers, with little change, until 1919. The cars featured comfortable weather tight cabins, quiet, dependable, shaft drive, and fully skirted fenders that dramatically reduced the problem of water, mud, and stones, thrown up by the wheels.

Ford (who was beginning to lose market share) started making the model T on the first modern assembly line. The lower cost made the motorcar available to many more Americans and put most other low price car companies out of business.

John D. Rockefeller Jr. bought a Detroit Electric model 46 Roadster for his wife Abbie.

Charles Proteus Steinmetz, the electrical genius at General Electric, bought a model 48 Detroit Electric Brougham (blue/blue).

Ford started paying "loyal" workers five dollars a day. He bought a third Detroit Electric (model 47) for Clara that they never sell.

The Milburn Wagon Co. started making a lighter and cheaper electric, giving a significant challenge to Detroit Electric's sales leadership. During the years that Milburn made electrics they produced about 3,400 cars, while Anderson/Detroit shipped 6,672.

The Detroit Electric is standardized with heavy chassis (type A), and light chassis (Type B) versions, both on a 100 inch wheel base. The heavy chassis cars were usually the large broughams (front, rear, or duplex drive), with some smaller broughams, roadsters, and cabriolets. The type "B" light chassis cars were the less expensive, ladder frame, four-passenger small Broughams and Coupes, clearly designed to compete with the recently introduced, lower priced, Milburn Light Electric.

Edison got a fifteen million dollar Navy contract for his battery in March of 1915, making them unavailable for the 1916 model year. The last Detroit shipped with an Edison Battery was on April 5th 1915.

Baker Electric merged with Rauch & Lang (German for "smoke & long") to resolve patent disputes. The cars and management of Owen Magnetic, plus capitol and management from General Electric were folded in.

The remaining electric car companies expanded into a diminishing market, with the double impact of World War I, and the influenza pandemic. Sales at Detroit Electric fell from 1,139 units in 1918 to 191 in 1920.

In the wartime economy the bodyworks, electrical component manufacturing, Material handling vehicles, and automobile making interests, became acutely diverged. The various parts of Baker R & L, and Detroit Electric, split back into these segments. The other remaining volume producer was Milburn, they were never vertically integrated in the first place.

W. C. Anderson, A. C. Downing, J. D. Wilson, & Frank Price continue the Detroit Electric car business from the Hupp plant at 6561 Mt. Elliot. Bodies were from old stock or were the new faux-radiator square-bodies from H&M Body in Racine WI. The main factory became part of Murray Body.

The Rauch & Lang brand was purchased by Stevens-Duyea, and they made electric taxies in Chicopee Falls MA until 1930. The coach building and material handling truck businesses stayed in Cleveland under the Baker-Raulang Company. Only two companies made electric passenger cars in any number for the next few years, Detroit and Milburn.

Milburn gave up and sold to their main body client General Motors.

It is likely that no entirely new Detroit Electrics were produced after mid-year.

W. C. Anderson, seventy-five and in failing health, sold the company. The last Detroit Electric under Anderson was shipped 7-11-29.

Car company liquidater Alfred O. Dunk purchased Detroit Electric and continued limited production under the same name. Their principal business was in turning earlier large broughams into model 98's and light chassis 4-passenger broughams into model 97's, they also made "new" model 99A's with a Willys body. The last Dunk car was shipped November 17th. 1932.

In Chicopee Falls the last Rauch & Langs are made, a trio of Owen style hybrids.

Dunk's company was liquidated. Dunk employee Alfred F. Renz got the Detroit Electric related assets and continued limited production of cars as The Detroit Electric Vehicle Manufacturing Company (registered October 16th, 1933). From remaining stock, or with a Dodge coupe body, Renz made another 15 "new" cars, the last of which was shipped 2-23-39.

W.W.II puts a stop to personal vehicle manufacturing so Renz sold the metallic assets as scrap for the war effort, then retired Detroit Electric as the most successful electric car company in the twentieth century producing 12,350-13,000 pleasure cars and 535 trucks.

After the war the automobile boom was all gas, the electric vehicle was relegated to public transportation and specialty niches such as vehicles on the factory floor, and city delivery routes. From the 1960's forward many individuals and companies have made prototype cars, conversions of gas cars, and small production runs of electric cars. But so far the car of the future remains a car of the past.

What Was The First Car?

A Quick History of the Automobile for Young People

Several Italians recorded designs for wind driven vehicles. The first was Guido da Vigevano in 1335. It was a windmill type drive to gears and thus to wheels. Vaturio designed a similar vehicle which was also never built. Later Leonardo da Vinci designed a clockwork driven tricycle with tiller steering and a differential mechanism between the rear wheels.

A Catholic priest named Father Ferdinand Verbiest has been said to have built a steam powered vehicle for the Chinese Emperor Chien Lung in about 1678. There is no information about the vehicle, only the event. Since Thomas Newcomen didn't build his first steam engine until 1712 we can guess that this was possibly a model vehicle powered by a mechanism like Hero's steam engine, a spinning wheel with jets on the periphery. Newcomen's engine had a cylinder and a piston and was the first of this kind, and it used steam as a condensing agent to form a vacuum and with an overhead walking beam, pull on a rod to lift water. It was an enormous thing and was strictly stationary. The steam was not under pressure, just an open boiler piped to the cylinder. It used the same vacuum principle that Thomas Savery had patented to lift water directly with the vacuum, which would have limited his pump to less than 32 feet of lift. Newcomen's lift would have only been limited by the length of the rod and the strength of the valve at the bottom. Somehow Newcomen was not able to separate his invention from that of Savery and had to pay for Savery's rights. In 1765 James Watt developed the first pressurized steam engine which proved to be much more efficient and compact that the Newcomen engine.

The first vehicle to move under its own power for which there is a record was designed by Nicholas Joseph Cugnot and constructed by M. Brezin in 1769. A replica of this vehicle is on display at the Conservatoire des Arts et Metiers, in Paris. I believe that the Smithsonian Museum in Washington D. C. also has a large (half size ?) scale model. A second unit was built in 1770 which weighed 8000 pounds and had a top speed on 2 miles per hour and on the cobble stone streets of Paris this was probably as fast as anyone wanted to go it. The picture shows the first model on its first drive around Paris were it hit and knocked down a stone wall. It also had a tendency to tip over frontward unless it was counterweighted with a canon in the rear. the purpose of the vehicle was to haul canons around town.

The early steam powered vehicles were so heavy that they were only practical on a perfectly flat surface as strong as iron. A road thus made out of iron rails became the norm for the next hundred and twenty five years. The vehicles got bigger and heavier and more powerful and as such they were eventually capable of pulling a train of many cars filled with freight and passengers.

As the picture at the right shows, many attempts were being made in England by the 1830's to develop a practical vehicle that didn't need rails. A series of accidents and propaganda from the established railroads caused a flurry of restrictive legislation to be passed and the development of the automobile bypassed England. Several commercial vehicles were built but they were more like trains without tracks.

The development of the internal combustion engine had to wait until a fuel was available to combust internally. Gunpowder was tried but didn't work out. Gunpowder carburetors are still hard to find. The first gas really did use gas. They used coal gas generated by heating coal in a pressure vessel or boiler. A Frenchman named Etienne Lenoir patented the first practical gas engine in Paris in 1860 and drove a car based on the design from Paris to Joinville in 1862. His one-half horse power engine had a bore of 5 inches and a 24 inch stroke. It was big and heavy and turned 100 rpm. Lenoir died broke in 1900.

Lenoir had a separate mechanism to compress the gas before combustion. In 1862, Alphonse Bear de Rochas figured out how to compress the gas in the same cylinder in which it was to burn, which is the way we still do it. This process of bringing the gas into the cylinder, compressing it, combusting the compressed mixture, then exhausting it is know as the Otto cycle, or four cycle engine. Lenoir claimed to have run the car on benzene and his drawings show an electric spark ignition. If so, then his vehicle was the first to run on petroleum based fuel, or petrol, or what we call gas, short for gasoline.

Siegfried Marcus, of Mecklenburg, built a can in 1868 and showed one at the Vienna Exhibition of 1873. His later car was called the Strassenwagen had about 3/4 horse power at 500 rpm. It ran on crude wooden wheels with iron rims and stopped by pressing wooden blocks against the iron rims, but it had a clutch, a differential and a magneto ignition. One of the four cars which Marcus built is in the Vienna Technical Museum and can still be driven under its own power.

In 1876, Nokolaus Otto patented the Otto cycle engine, de Rochas had neglected to do so, and this later became the basis for Daimler and Benz breaking the Otto patent by claiming prior art from de Rochas.

The picture to the left, taken in 1885, is of Gottllieb Daimler's workshop in Bad Cannstatt where he built the wooden motorcycle shown. Daimler's son Paul rode this motorcycle from Cannstatt to Unterturkheim and back on November 10, 1885. Daimler used a hot tube ignition system to get his engine speed up to 1000 rpm

The previous August, Karl Benz had already driven his light, tubular framed tricycle around the Neckar valley, only 60 miles from where Daimler lived and worked. They never met. Frau Berta Benz took Karl's car one night and made the first long car trip to see her mother, traveling 62 miles from Mannheim to Pforzheim in 1888.

Also in August 1888, William Steinway, owner of Steinway & Sons piano factory, talked to Daimler about US manufacturing right and by September had a deal. By 1891 the Daimler Motor Company, owned by Steinway, was producing petrol engines for tramway cars, carriages, quadricycles, fire engines and boats in a plant in Hartford, CT.

Steam cars had been built in America since before the Civil War but the early one were like miniature locomotives. In 1871, Dr. J. W. Carhart, professor of physics at Wisconsin State University, and the J. I. Case Company built a working steam car. It was practical enough to inspire the State of Wisconsin to offer a $10,000 prize to the winner of a 200 mile race in 1878.

The 200 mile race had seven entries, or which two showed up for the race. One car was sponsored by the city of Green Bay and the other by the city of Oshkosh. The Green Bay car was the fastest but broke down and the Oshkosh car finished with an average speed of 6 mph.

From this time until the end of the century, nearly every community in America had a mad scientist working on a steam car. Many old news papers tell stories about the trials and failures of these would be inventors.

By 1890 Ransom E. Olds had built his second steam powered car, pictured at left. One was sold to a buyer in India, but the ship it was on was lost at sea.

Running by February, 1893 and ready for road trials by September, 1893 the car built by Charles and Frank Duryea, brothers, was the first gasoline powered car in America. The first run on public roads was made on September 21, 1893 in Springfield, MA. They had purchased a used horse drawn buggy for $70 and installed a 4 HP, single cylinder gasoline engine. The car (buggy) had a friction transmission, spray carburetor and low tension ignition. It must not have run very well because Frank didn't drive it again until November 10 when it was reported by the Springfield Morning Union newspaper. This car was put into storage in 1894 and stayed there until 1920 when it was rescued by Inglis M. Uppercu and presented to the United States National Museum.

Henry Ford had an engine running by 1893 but it was 1896 before he built his first car. By the end of the year Ford had sold his first car, which he called a Quadracycle, for $200 and used the money to build another one. With the financial backing of the Mayor of Detroit, William C. Maybury and other wealthy Detroiters, Ford formed the Detroit Automobile Company in 1899. A few prototypes were built but no production cars were ever made by this company. It was dissolved in January 1901. Ford would not offer a car for sale until 1903.

The first closed circuit automobile race held at Narragansett Park, Rhode Island, in September 1896. All four cars to the left are Duryeas, on the right is a Morris & Salom Electrobat. Thirteen Duryeas of the same design were produced in 1896, making it the first production car.

At left is pictured the factory with produced the 13 Duryeas. In 1898 the brothers went their separate ways and the Duryea Motor Wagon Company was closed. Charles, who was born in 1861 and was eight years older than Frank had taken advantage of Frank in publicity and patents. Frank went out on his own and eventually joined with Stevens Arms and Tool Company to form the Stevens-Duryea Company which was sold to Westinghouse in 1915. Charles tried to produce some of his own hare-brained ideas with various companies until 1916. Thereafter he limited himself to writing technical book and articles. He died in 1938. Frank got a half a million dollars for the Westinghouse deal and lived in comfort until his death in 1967, just seven months from his 98th birthday.

In this engraving Ransom Eli Olds is at the tiller of his first petrol powered car. Riding beside him is Frank G. Clark, who built the body and in the back are their wives. This car was running by 1896 but production of the Olds Motor Vehicle Company of Detroit did not begin until 1899. After an early failure with luxury vehicles they established the first really successful production with the classic Curved Dash Oldsmobile.

The Curved Dash Oldsmobile had a single cylinder engine, tiller steering and chain drive. It sold for $650. In 1901 600 were sold and the next years were 1902 - 2,500, 1903 - 4,000, 1904 - 5,000. In August 1904 Ransom Olds left the company to form Reo (for Ransom Eli Olds). Ransom E. Olds was the first mass producer of gasoline powered automobiles in the United States, even though Duryea was the first auto manufacturer with their 13 cars.

Ransom Olds produced a small number of electric cars around the turn of the century. Little is known about them and none survive. The picture at left is the only known picture of one of these rare cars. It was taken at was taken at Belle Island Park, Michigan. In 1899 and 1900, electrics outsold all other type of cars and the most popular electric was the Columbia built by Colonel Albert Augustus Pope, owner of American Bicycle Company.

J. A. Koosen and H. Lawson in a 1895 Lutzmann. This is typical of American design in the mid 1890's. It was truly a horseless carriage. Tiller steering, engine under the floorboards, very high center of gravity, not designed for road travel. Imagine climbing into one of these and trying to drive across town and around a few corners. Kind of scary, huh?

This Daimler of 1899 was owned by Lionel Rothchild. The European design is much advanced of the American designs of the same time. Gottlieb Daimler took part in the London-to-Brighton run in 1896 but died in 1900 at the age of 66 without ever meeting Benz. His German engines powered the automobile industries of Britain and France.

The 1908 Haynes in the back ground shows the rapid development of the petrol powered car when compared to the 1894 model in the foreground. Consider the present difference between a 1998 Tarus and the 14 year old 1984 Tarus. Some difference. Old man Haynes claimed to have build the 1894 car in 1893 but had no proof.

The Rolls Royce Silver Ghost of 1906 was a six cylinder car that stayed in production until 1925. It represented the best engineering and technology available at the time and these cars still run smoothly and silently today. This period marked the end of the beginning of the automobile.