The First Car A History of the Automobile

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What Was The First Car?

A History of the Automobile for Young

by William W. Bottorff

Several recorded designs for wind vehicles. The first was Guido da in 1335. It was a windmill type to gears and thus to wheels.

designed a similar vehicle was also never built. Leonardo da Vinci designed a driven tricycle with steering and a differential mechanism the rear wheels.

A Catholic named Father Ferdinand has been said to have a steam powered vehicle for the Emperor Chien Lung in 1678. There is no information the vehicle, only the event. Thomas Newcomen didn’t his first steam engine 1712 we can guess that was possibly a model vehicle by a mechanism like Hero’s engine, a spinning wheel jets on the periphery. Newcomen’s had a cylinder and a piston and was the first of kind, and it used steam as a agent to form a vacuum and an overhead walking beam, on a rod to lift water.

It was an enormous and was strictly stationary. The steam was not pressure, just an open piped to the cylinder. It used the vacuum principle that Savery had patented to lift directly with the vacuum, would have limited his to less than 32 feet of

Newcomen’s lift would only been limited by the of the rod and the strength of the valve at the bottom. Newcomen was not able to separate his from that of Savery and had to pay for rights. In 1765 James developed the first pressurized engine which proved to be more efficient and compact the Newcomen engine.

The first to move under its own power for there is a record was designed by Joseph Cugnot and constructed by M. in 1769. A replica of this is on display at the Conservatoire des Arts et in Paris. I believe that the Museum in Washington D. C. also has a (half size ?) scale

A second unit was built in which weighed 8000 and had a top speed on 2 miles per hour and on the stone streets of Paris was probably as fast as anyone to go it. The picture shows the first on its first drive around were it hit and knocked down a wall. It also had a tendency to tip frontward unless it was counterweighted a canon in the rear. the purpose of the was to haul canons around

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

As the picture at the shows, many attempts being made in England by the to develop a practical vehicle didn’t need rails. A of accidents and propaganda from the railroads caused a flurry of legislation to be passed and the development of the bypassed England. Several vehicles were built but were more like without tracks.

The development of the combustion engine had to wait a fuel was available to combust Gunpowder was tried but didn’t out. Gunpowder carburetors are hard to find. The first gas did use gas. They used gas generated by heating coal in a vessel or boiler.

A Frenchman Etienne Lenoir patented the practical gas engine in Paris in and drove a car based on the design Paris to Joinville in 1862. His horse power engine had a of 5 inches and a 24 inch stroke. It was big and and turned 100 rpm.

Lenoir broke in 1900.

Lenoir had a mechanism to compress the gas before In 1862, Alphonse Bear de figured out how to compress the gas in the same in which it was to burn, which is the way we do it. This process of bringing the gas the cylinder, compressing it, combusting the mixture, then exhausting it is as the Otto cycle, or four engine. Lenoir claimed to run the car on benzene and his drawings show an spark ignition.

If so, then his was the first to run on petroleum based or petrol, or what we call short for gasoline.

Siegfried of Mecklenburg, built a can in 1868 and one at the Vienna Exhibition of 1873. His car was called the Strassenwagen had about 3/4 power at 500 rpm. It ran on crude wheels with iron and stopped by pressing wooden against the iron rims, but it had a a differential and a magneto ignition.

One of the four cars which built is in the Vienna Technical and can still be driven under its own

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

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

The previous Karl Benz had already his light, tubular framed around the Neckar valley, 60 miles from where lived and worked. They met. Frau Berta took Karl’s car one night and the first long car trip to see her traveling 62 miles from to Pforzheim in 1888.

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

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

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

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

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

Running by February, and ready for road trials by 1893 the car built by Charles and Duryea, brothers, was the first powered car in America. The first run on roads was made on September 21, in Springfield, MA. They had purchased a horse drawn buggy for $70 and a 4 HP, single cylinder gasoline The car (buggy) had a friction transmission, carburetor and low tension ignition. It not have run very well Frank didn’t drive it until November 10 when it was by the Springfield Morning Union

This car was put into storage in and stayed there until when it was rescued by Inglis M. and presented to the United States Museum.

Henry Ford had an running by 1893 but it was 1896 he built his first car. By the end of the Ford had sold his first which he called a Quadracycle, for and used the money to build one. With the financial of the Mayor of Detroit, William C. and other wealthy Detroiters, formed the Detroit Automobile in 1899. A few prototypes were but no production cars were made by this company. It was in January 1901.

Ford not offer a car for sale until

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

At is pictured the factory with the 13 Duryeas. In 1898 the brothers their separate ways and the Motor Wagon Company was Charles, who was born in 1861 and was years older than had taken advantage of Frank in and patents.

Frank went out on his own and joined with Stevens and Tool Company to form the Company which was sold to in 1915. Charles tried to some of his own hare-brained ideas various companies until Thereafter he limited himself to technical book and articles. He in 1938.

Frank got a half a dollars for the Westinghouse deal and in comfort until his death in just seven months his 98th birthday.

In this Ransom Eli Olds is at the tiller of his petrol powered car. beside him is Frank G. Clark, who the body and in the back are their This car was running by 1896 but of the Olds Motor Vehicle of Detroit did not begin until

After an early failure luxury vehicles they the first really successful with the classic Curved Oldsmobile.

The Curved Dash had a single cylinder engine, steering and chain drive. It for $650. In 1901 600 were and the next years were — 2,500, 1903 4,000, 1904 —

In August 1904 Ransom left the company to form Reo Ransom Eli Olds). Ransom E. was the first mass producer of powered automobiles in the United . even though Duryea was the auto manufacturer with 13 cars.

Ransom Olds a small number of electric around the turn of the century. is known about them and survive. The picture at left is the known picture of one of these cars. It was taken at was taken at Island Park, Michigan.


In and 1900, electrics outsold all type of cars and the most electric was the Columbia built by Albert Augustus Pope, of American Bicycle Company.

J. A. and H. Lawson in a 1895 Lutzmann. is typical of American design in the mid It was truly a horseless carriage. steering, engine under the very high center of not designed for road travel.

climbing into one of these and to drive across town and a few corners. Kind of scary,

This Daimler of 1899 was by Lionel Rothchild. The European is much advanced of the American of the same time. Gottlieb took part in the London-to-Brighton run in but died in 1900 at the age of 66 without meeting Benz.

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His German powered the automobile industries of and France.

The 1908 Haynes in the ground shows the rapid of the petrol powered car when to the 1894 model in the foreground. the present difference between a Tarus and the 14 year old 1984 Some difference.

Old man Haynes to have build the 1894 car in but had no proof.

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

How The Car Changed The County, Town by

In 1903, in Winfield, Kansas Mr. H. T. is seen standing in from of the car in town. Acutally it was more a truck and was used to haul out to see land.

The railroads brought customers to town and Mr. Trice them up at the depot and took out to his new developments.

Steam power was used in the 1880’s and 1890’s on the of America. Cowley County had its of these behemoths and had a large of people with the ability to and the skill to fix and repair them. The less expensive automobile, an internal combustion engine a new avenue of interest that was more personal than the engine with its team of

Mr. Martin Baden of Winfield, and his new eight-cylinder Cadillac roadster. car was especially built for Mr. Baden. and was with all modern appliances. an automobile required a high to technical dexterity, mechanical special clothing including gloves, duster coat, and boots.

Tires were unreliable and changing one was an excruciating Fuel was a problem, since was in short supply. Mr.

Baden interested enough to become a geologist and eventually discover oil deposits in Cowley County, and surrounding area.

The drivers of the day an adventurous lot, going out in kind of weather, unprotected by an body, or even a convertible Everyone in town knew who what car and the cars were to become each individuals of identity. Notice the guy at the far right his flat time. The dirt were a challenge in any weather.

By Winfield paved the downtown with brick, horses no longer welcome. The mule trolleys were upgraded to streetcars.

By 1915 racing had a passion all over the United A typical local race was at the Cowley County Fairgrounds in Kansas. The local obsession horse racing, started by the settlers in 1870, turned to the new of auto racing.

Local boys who were familiar motors and equipment used talents on cars and motorcycles to go than anyone in the county.

The racing facilities were converted to the new, faster, dangerous, and thus more motor racing. See Bob Lawrence’s Page for new sections on both Racing and Motorcycle Racing in County, Kansas

Eventually the automobile change the of small town America. The gentry bought cars. fashoned to match their in life. In Winfield, Kansas, Street went from a place for people and horses and to a parking place for the ubiquitous The Trolley Car s were displaced to room for more cars.

The streets were covered asphalt to provide a smoother for the automobile. The old fire maps of show the inexorable spread of the and all of the supporting businesses. Filling auto dealers, battery oil depots all grew and expanded to to older technologies of the day.

R. B. Winfield Carriage Works on the fire-map of Block 127 in 1918. But on the spot on Block 127 in 1925 it has replaced by a Battery Station and an Storage facility.

Midway the century, cars had become a feature of life for young The cars owned by the students of High School in the fifties are of every where in America at time. It was mobility, status, and social freedom. It certainly our football team at the time. A excuse for not playing on the football was that a student had to work to money to pay for their car.

asked why they needed a the answer was invariably: to get to work!

a century of the automobile, we can begin to the effects of long term by internal combustion. Nearly aspect of our lives has developed this technology. Only are we seeing new digital communications of the internet and beyond, that may displace some of the functions of the and replace our current problems a new set that you, our grandchildren, be charged with solving.

Ask grandparents about their car. I’m sure you get to hear a great story.

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