On September 20, 1893, Charles and Frank Duryea, who were brothers, road-tested the first American gasoline powered automobile. They weren’t in Detroit, they were in Springfield, Massachusetts. The Duryea’s “motor wagon” was made from a used horse drawn buggy. The brothers purchased it for $70, a whopping sum at the time. They installed a 4 HP, single cylinder gasoline engine. That’s kinda like a lawn mower engine today.
The car had a friction transmission, spray carburetor and low tension ignition – the electric starter was way off in the future, so that means they had to crank it to start it.
Frank Duryea test drove it again on November 10 — this time in a prominent location: past their garage at 47 Taylor Street in Springfield. They made the papers the next day, and the Auto Industry was born!
The American automobile industry of course settled in Detroit, but it began in Springfield, Mass. An industry that got the world moving, it employs millions of people and fuels the economy. I love cars, I love the auto industry, and I make my living in it.
Cars keep America moving, they keep me working, and they’ve brought me a lot of joy over the years. I’ve had a ton of them.
My first car was a 1957 Chevrolet, well, it was actually my mother’s car. After I rolled it, she let me drive her 1963 Dodge Dart. Four doors, push button transmission, it was not a ‘babe magnet’!
The first car I bought with my own money was a…wait for it…1973 AMC Gremlin X, with the Levi package. Don’t laugh, I loved that car.
After selling it to my brother when I joined the Navy, I bought a 1969 Ford Falcon with a three on the tree. It died every time I turned left, and to this day, I avoid left turns at all cost.
I only drove it while I was waiting for my 1977 Ford Thunderbird – my dream car – to come in. It was a special order.
Sleek, black, and beautiful, I babied that car, but traded it for something much more special, which you can read about here.
The T-Bird was followed by a Chevette.
No comparison, I know, it was a total Fred Flintstone mobile, but gas was high, the commute long, and the Bird had a gas guzzling V-8. The Chevette was replaced by a 1985 VW Jetta. One of two I might add, I liked it so much I bought another one in 1990.
Then my first mid-life crisis came. Instead of an affair, I bought a pick UP truck.
A 1993 Ford Ranger Extended Cab. The kids loved sitting in the little back seats. TLW drove the 90 Jetta until she became a mini van mom in 1994. The first of two Dodge Caravans filled the garage, the kids had a bench seat of their own, and vacations became much more vacation like. The second van was a 2000, the first being totaled in the school parking lot by a student who was only doing 15 mph! Yeah, right.
The 93 Ranger was replaced by a 1997 Ranger, which I loved, but after 200, 000 miles, it was time for a replacement, and well, by that time, I was working at ‘that place where I work’, and we sell cars, so, it was time for a Jeep.
Kinda back to AMC if you know what I mean.
My first Liberty was a 2004, four cylinder, five speed, sport. I loved it. But again, 200,000 miles and it’s replacement time. So now, it’s still a Jeep, but it’s newer, 2008. It’s funny, I drive less now. But back then, 200,000 in four years was not uncommon.
It’s also funny, how the mention of a special day in a special industry can put me on the trail of every car I’ve ever owned!