A hundred years ago a trip by automobile was as much a test of manpower as of horsepower, 'Men had to be men'. In those days, 'Get out and get under' (the song was not composed then) had a direct meaning to the adventuresome, soiled and grease-stained motorist chauffeurs. Happily, these crude, cumbersome, horseless carriages are no more. Here and there a restored one may be found, hidden among the array of glistening new vehicles of modern achievement. Those pioneer vehicles were in fact as na?ve as the ancient chariots of Egypt and Rome. The early horseless carriages were big, heavy, uncomfortable, noisy, and smelly wagons or carriages, powered by engines having huge cylinders that were gluttons for fuel. Or they were small, fragile, uncomfortable, noisy and smelly buggies, powered by small engines, hardly big enough to propel the buggy. Clanking chains rotated the rear wheels, while noisy engines dripped oil like a sieve. They emitted billowing clouds of smoke, as the drab vehicles trembled on wobbly wheels that seemed ready to collapse.
Although the average asking price for one of these 'headaches on wheels' was USD1,000 or more, the greatest expense came later for maintenance and repairs. These vehicles were plagued with engine, clutch, transmission, steering, brake, wheel, and fuel troubles, let alone problems from the weather. The cost of broken and worn-out parts greatly exceeded the cost of operation. Axle shafts fractured, universal joints failed, crankshafts broke or scored, pistons cracked, cylinders scored or wore rapidly, connecting rods broke, bearings burned out, clutches slipped, transmission gears stripped and chattered. Adjustments and overhaul procedures were common operating procedure. The cost of replacement parts was high because of the lack of standardization and volume. These strange and crude-looking vehicles spit, coughed, belched, groaned, backfired, and stalled unexpectedly. They were the source of distrust, despair, doubt, ridicule, and embarrassment to their owners. It was soon quite obvious that the smelly, noisy, imperfect, and expensive automobile needed much refinement and performance proof to convince a skeptical public that it was a viable alternative to travel by horse.
Fortunately, the novelty, rarity, or scarcity attracted enough buyers to keep some manufacturers in business, while the brilliant minds of these stalwart men worked to solve the problems, and to regain the publicAs confidence, despite the negatives. These vehicles were the direct ancestors of our modern-day cars, and from their trials, failures, and successes, came knowledge and improvements. It is the purpose of this publication to acknowledge the accomplishments, give credit to, and honor those various selfless individuals who risked all their possessions and toiled to acquire a better means of transportation, which has led to a better and fuller life for all Americans. Contents Include: Introduction Thomas White Albert Pope Henry Leland John Willys Benjamin Briscoe Charles Matheson Allison/Fisher/Newby/Wheeler and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway David Parry Hugh Chalmers Harry Jewett Frederick Chandler Edward Rickenbacker E.L. Cord Index.show more