When you jump into your car, do you ever think about the automobile’s humble origins? Boots and bonnets? Covered or convertible? September heralds many notable (and numerous) events in automotive history, notable and important.
Let’s take a look at events that shaped the invention and development of the automobile over the decades.
September 25, 1725
On this day was born Nicolas Joseph Cugnot in Lorraine, France, who is widely credited as the inventor of the first car. Known as the fardier a’ vapeur, or steam dray, a three-wheeled vehicle used for transporting cannons by the military.
September 3, 1875
On this day Ferdinand Porsche was born in what is now the Czech Republic. A prolific designer engineer, founder of Porsche, he is best known for the design of the Volkswagen Beetle, the Mercedes-Benz SS/SSK and the first gas-electric hybrid vehicle, the Lohner-Porsche.
September 5, 1885
Sylvanus Bowser manufactures the first gasoline pump in Fort Wayne, Indiana as a dispenser to re-fill kerosene lamps, but by the early 20th century he was altering his invention to accommodate the automobile.
In 1905 Bowser added a dedicated hose and adopted various safety mechanisms, rebranding his invention the “Self-Measuring Gasoline Storage Pump.
September 10, 1897
George W. Smith, a taxicab driver in London, crashed his electric taxi
September 13, 1899
Henry Bliss, a 69-year-old real estate dealer in New York City, was exiting a trolley car at West 74th Street when an electric-powered taxicab struck and killed him, becoming the first known pedestrian to be killed by a motor vehicle.
September 6, 1900
On this day in 1900, a speed record was set by Andrew L Riker in an electric car, proving it could compete with internal combustion powered vehicles on the race track. Riker’s battery-powered “Torpedo” racer hit 57.1 miles per hour in a race at Coney Island, NY. It was a world speed record for electric automobiles.
Riker was an early automobile designer known for helping the US automotive industry transition from electric to gas-powered manufacturing. In 1888 he formed the Riker Electric Motor Co. to make electric motors and a year later formed the Riker Motor Vehicle Co. in New Jersey. We’ve come full circle, with EVs once again finding prominence in the automotive arena.
September 16, 1908
General Motors was incorporated by William Crap Durant, who was at the time a majority controller of Buick. GM was created as a holding company for Buick, which then acquired Buick and Oldsmobile. Under Durant GM continued its acquisition momentum with the purchase of Cadillac, Elmore, Welch, Cartercar, Oakland (Pontiac), Reliance Motor Truck Company and the Rapid Motor Vehicle Company.
September 12, 1912
Carl G. Fisher, president of Prest-o-lite and co-founder of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, announced plans for the Lincoln Highway, America’s first coast-to-coast highway.
September 4, 1917
Henry Ford II, AKA Hank The Deuce, was born, the oldest of Henry Ford’s grandchildren. Hank was President of Ford for 15 and CEO for almost 20 years. Under Hank’s leadership the company
September 21, 1945
Henry Ford’s son, Henry For II, took the reins of Ford Motor Co. from his grandfather, Henry Ford, after his retirement. The change in leadership marked a new era in Ford’s management, seeing Ford II implementing significant changes, including improved relations with union workers, and releasing the iconic models Mustang and Thunderbird.
September 2, 1959
Ford Motor Co. released its newest model, the Ford Falcon, in the first nationwide closed-circuit news conference. A smaller car intended to compete with the smaller, more fuel efficient foreign cars, the Falcon’s debut featured a lightweight 95-hp, 2.4 L straight-six with a single-barrel carburetor, the choice of a three-speed manual or two-speed automatic transmission, and unibody construction.
The Falcon was eventually discontinued and replaced by the Ford Maverick.
September 11, 1970
The Ford Motor Company introduces it’s new $2,000 Pinto subcompact to fight off the influx of economical Japanese imports. The Pinto would become notorious for being susceptible to bursting into flames after a violent impact.
September 7, 1979
Battered by three recessions, two energy crises and new government and environmental fuel-efficiency standards, Chrysler Corporation was in financial turmoil and facing bankruptcy. Amid fears of major layoffs in the millions and the resurgence of the German and Japanese Auto industries, the federal government under Jimmy Carter loaned Chrysler $1.5 billion in taxpayer dollars.
September 14, 1982
After suffering a stroke, which caused her to driver her Rover P6 off of a cliff the previous day, Princess Grace of Monaco, formerly known as actress Grace Kelly, died in the hospital.