Thursday, March 2, 2017

The 1800s: It Was a Very Good Century - Part One

Every year, as New Year’s approaches, I tell myself I’m going to write a blog post on the cars from the model year 25 years ago, which are about to become classics by most car show rules. And every year I’m so busy trying to catch up on the paying work (oh, the joys of freelancing) after taking time off for Christmas, that it doesn’t happen. So I decided, why wait for New Year’s? Why not start now with the oldest cars in my photo collection and go from there.

But before I get started, did you know that there were people building cars in Canada in the 1800s? I certainly hadn’t, but that’s what I discovered during my research for this article. Check out this PAGE from the Canada Science and Technology Museum, where you can find out about Seth Taylor’s 1867 steam buggy, an 1893 electric vehicle designed by William Still and Frederick B. Featherstonehaugh and built in Toronto, and an 1896 gasoline-powered automobile built by George Foote Foss of Sherbrooke, Quebec.

1885 Benz Patent Motorwagen (replica)
Samsung Transportation Museum
Photo by Kate Tompkins
Here’s a picture of a replica 1885 Benz Patent Motorwagen from the Samsung Transportation Museum in Korea. While this is often called the first car, there were working steam-powered vehicles back in the 1700s. There were even steam-powered buses. Steam cars became so popular in the 1800s that legislation was passed to regulate them in the UK (the 1865 Locomotive Act) so that they had to be preceded with someone on foot waving a red flag. The annual London to Brighton Veteran Car Run is based on the celebration of the repeal of that law in 1896. The 1885 Benz, however, was the first production car with an internal combustion engine.

1895 Knight
National Motor Museum, Beaulieu
Photo by Kate Tompkins
Here’s the 1895 Knight from the National Motor Museum at Beaulieu, England. It was the first British gas-powered vehicle to hold two people, designed by John Henry Knight. Originally a three-wheeled vehicle, it was reconfigured the following year with four wheels. According to Wikipedia, Knight built it to draw attention to the rules against motor cars at the time.

1896 Pennington Autocar
National Motor Museum, Beaulieu
Photo by Kate Tompkins
Here’s an 1896 Pennington Autocar, also from the National Motor Museum. Designed by American Edward Joel Pennington (quite the scoundrel if you can believe the Wikipedia article on him), this is the only remaining example. Seems he took orders for the car, but never delivered.

More 1800s cars to come in my next post.


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