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Motor Vehicles from 1912: A Look Back in Scientific American's Archives

By Daniel C. Schlenoff

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MOTOR VEHICLES:

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

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.....[ More ]

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.....[ More ]

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.....[ More ]

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.....[ More ]

A "DUMPING TRUCK":

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

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.....[ More ]

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.”....[ More ]

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?....[ More ]

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.....[ More ]

MOTORCARS AND MUD:

A French automobile club had a contest to find the best way to reduce "mud" (a mix of various kinds of filth) flung onto pedestrians by cars on early-20th-century Paris streets.....[ More ]

SAFER DRIVING:

Tire advertisement from the Republic Rubber Company--and an endorsement of headlights. Guard rails on the narrow mountain road would help. Macadam would be nice, too. Such was the state of roads a century ago.....[ More ]

MOTORCYCLES:

A Harley-Davidson 1911 Model 7 hauls groceries to a farm (left). The 1912 advertisement is for an Excelsior Auto Cycle (right). Excelsior halted production in 1931; Harley-Davidson had $4.6 billion in revenue in 2011.....[ More ]

HEAVENLY HIGHWAY:

Coleman du Pont's philanthropic share-the-road ideal for a throughway for cars, trams, trucks, horses, walkers and shade trees. The scaled-back scheme ended up as US Route 113 in Delaware.....[ More ]

CULTURAL MAINSTREAM:

Toy manufacturer E. P. Lehmann of Germany sold a "joy-rider" equipped with a small bellows to blow his horn ( left ), and a motorcycle that ran upright.....[ More ]

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