Automobile History: drivetrain

Getting power from the engine to the wheels of an automobile has provided a seemingly endless challenge for rear-wheel-drive, front-wheel-drive, 4-wheel-drive, front-engine, rear-engine, and mid-engine cars, longitudinal, transverse, vertical, slant, and flat engines, plus an amazing array of hardware in between. George Selden’s notorious 1877 patent was for a front-drive carriage with a transverse 3-cylinder engine, anticipating the Chevy/Suzuki Sprint...

Automobile History: body & chassis

Unlike the first engine and chassis builders, who had no precedents to follow, the first auto body engineers represented an old established craft. It mattered little to them whether vehicles were to be propelled by a gasoline engine, electric power, or steam. Their task was the same as in the days of chariots: to construct a conveyance that would carry...

Automobile History: suspension system

On a summer day in 1904 a young man by the name of William Brush helped bring about the modern automobile suspension system. Driving his brother Alanson’s Crestmobile, Brush was rolling along too fast for the unpaved roads of the day and went into a curve at 30 mph. The car’s right front wheel skittered onto the dirt shoulder and whammed...

Automobile History: brake system

A major test of brake systems took place in 1902 on an unpaved road in New York City called Riverside Drive. Ransom E. Olds had arranged to test a new brake system against the tire brake of a four-horse coach and the internal drum brake of a Victoria horseless carriage. His Oldsmobilesported a single flexible stainless-steel band, wrapped around a drum on the rear axle. When...

The History of LaSalle Automobile

Cadillac dominated the U.S. luxury-car market in the Teens and early Twenties. But by the time Lawrence P. Fisher was appointed president and general manager of the upper-crust General Motors division in 1925, there was trouble in the air. Big trouble: Packard had replaced Cadillac as America’s most popular premium automobile. You can readily imagine the hurried conferences that must...

The History of Cadillac

Cadillac’s history can be traced back to the beginning of the 18th century. Although coaches, horse riding or walking were the favorite means of locomotion during those times and no cars had been yet made, it’s important to trace the brand to its origins. The genesis of Cadillac as it is widely known today began in 1701, when a group...

The History of Chrysler Group

With the establishment of the Maxwell Motor Company in the early 1900’s the company would then team up with the Chalmers Motor Car Company to form Maxwell-Chalmers. This formation would manufacture vehicles that were based on performance and luxury but would run into several problems such as stagnant sales. While many motor companies were selling vehicles around $500 to $1000...

Automobile History: Electrical System

When Alessandro Volta invented the storage battery in 1796, he had no idea he was inventing the modern automotive electrical system. Volta made his discovery 89 years before the first car was offered for public sale. It was another 25 years before the storage battery got even a passing nod from some automakers. Between 1885 and 1910, most cars having...

Automobile History: Ignition System

Early one September morning in 1908, Ernest Sweet, chief engineer for the Cadillac Motor Car Co., stepped off a train in Dayton, Ohio. He was met by an engineer who worked for National Cash Register. In the five years he had spent at NCR, the younger man — he was 32 — had invented an electrically operated cash register that...

Charles Franklin Kettering: Invented the First Electrical Starter Motor Ignition System

The first electrical ignition system or electric starter motor for cars was invented by GM engineers Clyde Coleman and Charles Kettering. The self-starting ignition was first installed in a Cadillac on February 17, 1911. The invention of the electric starter motor by Kettering eliminated the need for hand cranking. United States Patent #1,150,523, was issued to Kettering in 1915.  Kettering founded...