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Motor Vehicles from 1912: A Look Back in <em>Scientific American</em>'s Archives

As motive power increased in capacity, reliability and utility, motor vehicles evolved to fulfill a wide variety of personal and business needs in 1912--the same kinds of needs that we have a century later.

» View the Motor Vehicles from 1912

  • MOTOR VEHICLES:
    MOTOR VEHICLES:

    The possibilities were (and are) endless. All you need is a sturdy chassis and a good set of blueprints.

  • TRUCKS VS. HORSES:
    TRUCKS VS. HORSES:

    A hard-sell advertisement from Gramm Trucks asks the business owner a pointed question about the utility of a smart modern truck versus a team of tired old nags.

  • STONE FOR ROADS:
    STONE FOR ROADS:

    A truck hauls a load of road-building stone to John D. Rockefeller's mansion in Pocantico Hills, N.Y. The estate is now a historic site of the National Trust.

  • MOTORIZED BAGGAGE:
    MOTORIZED BAGGAGE:

    "Three-ton truck loaded with trunks for a large summer hotel." In 2012, thanks to air-conditioning, the middle class no longer flees the city because of the heat of summer.

  • FARM MOTORS:
    FARM MOTORS:

    Inventors and companies put a lot of effort into trying to provide agriculture the right kind of vehicle with enough horse-replacing power.

  • A "DUMPING TRUCK":
    A "DUMPING TRUCK":

    The tailboard opens automatically as the bed is tilted. The concept remains unchanged.

  • DIESEL ENGINE:
    DIESEL ENGINE:

    Dr. Rudolph Diesel developed an engine that delivered more miles per gallon than a gasoline engine. Until recently, diesel-fuelled cars were considered to be more polluting than gasoline engines.

  • AUTO INDUSTRY:
    AUTO INDUSTRY:

    If the material for the 209,000 cars manufactured in 1911 were used for one car, it “would tower to a height of 442 feet, or within 100 feet of the top of the Municipal Building.”

  • WHAT ARE WE SELLING
    WHAT ARE WE SELLING

    This advertisement for Studebaker (it ceased producing autos in 1966) shows young folk fleeing the cares of the world—and perhaps the strict oversight of their parents?

  • ELECTRIC CAR:
    ELECTRIC CAR:

    Stylish and easy-to-operate competition for the internal-combustion engine. The lack of range and a top speed of only 20 M.P.H. doomed the Waverley company and it ceased production in 1916.

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