For most of us, driving and restoring our cars is a way of life: Building the cars with our family and friends, preserving a part of the past and driving the cars for pure enjoyment.
As a restorer and driver of old cars, I enjoy reading and talking with people about what was going on when these cars were built. In the early days of car building, before the EPA and heavy government regulation, the designers and engineers could build a car as far as the imagination could go (the 1937 Cord 812 Sportsman comes to mind). To some degree, we as independent car builders can still do that, so I though it would be fun to write an ongoing series of articles about what we are doing in the Southern Wheels shop, and stories about old cars in general.
With the 100th Anniversary of the Motorcar in America, I think of the pioneers: Henry Ford, Billy Durant (founder of GM), Walter Chrysler, James & William Packard, Harry Bassett (Buick), Henry Leland (Lincoln & Cadillac), and so many others who made all of this possible.
These are only a few of the automobile giants who changed the world. 1896 is considered the first year a car was built in America, and Henry Ford built it. Although Ford built his famous Quadracycle that year, it was actually his second car, the first being built in 1892. It was a two-passenger, 4 horse power vehicle with two speeds: 10 & 20 mph (no reverse). Ford drove it for about 1000 miles before selling it and building the Quadracycle. In 1899, he, along with several investors, formed the Detroit Automobile Company, which became Cadillac in 1902. Ford left, and in 1903 founded the Ford Motor Company, and by the mid-1920s was producing more than 2 million cars and trucks a year. Henry’s idea to mass-produce cars of the highest quality for the lowest price helped to put “America on wheels”, enriching the lives of millions and making this great automotive experience possible.
Keep your batteries up and your cars on the road!