June 4, 2010

Henry Ford's First Test Drive – 1896

One this day in 1896, Henry Ford put the finishing touches on his first vehicle.

This self-propelled vehicle ran on a gasoline-powered engine. 

Sitting on four bicycle tires, it didn't look much like modern automobiles, but of course it was their direct ancestor.

Ford called this first vehicle a quadricycle. It was also called a horseless carriage and a gasoline buggy.

On th
at day in 1896, Ford started up his quadricycle and drove it around the streets of Detroit, Michigan. Naturally, it attracted stares and questions from onlookers. I wonder if it seemed very low to the ground next to the people on horseback and horse-drawn carriages?

The quadricycle only had two gears—and no reverse! It reached speeds of 20 miles per hour.

Later in 1896, Ford sold this first quadricycle for $200. He built two more in the next three years, and of course went on to make better and better cars, including his famous Model T (pictured here, right). Eventually, he bought back his first quadricycle for $65. It is now on display in the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan.
Design a vehicle or transport system of the future.

Think about the stuff you've seen in science fiction movies. Are those vehicles possible? Practical? Desirable?

Do you have any completely original ideas?

Remember, most invention is really REinvention.

Take some vehicle that works and re-design it so that it's better: cheaper, faster, smaller, larger, “greener” (by which I mean better for the environment), or ...

Find Out More

  • Read a short bio of Henry Ford. Notice, at the bottom of the page is a slideshow and puzzles.

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