Henry Ford Introduces His First Vehicle

June 4, 1896

After two years of experimentation, automotive pioneer Henry Ford unveiled his recently completed Ford Quadricycle and took it out for an early morning test drive in Detroit. The vehicle, which was his first automobile, had a light metal frame supported by four bicycle wheels. One likely reason why Ford named this vehicle a “Quadricycle” was because of those four wheels.

The Ford Quadricycle was propelled forward by an ethanol-powered, two-cylinder, four-horsepower (4.06-metric horsepower) engine. The fuel tank could be found under the seat of the vehicle. In addition, this 500-pound (226.8-kilogram) automobile also had a doorbell button for a horn. The Ford Quadricycle was also equipped with a transmission with only two gears – first for 10 miles (16.1 kilometers) per hour and second for 20 miles (32.2 kilometers) per hour. There was no reverse gear, and the Ford Quadricycle also lacked brakes.

After putting the finishing touches on this new “horseless carriage” in the small workshop behind his home on Bagley Street, the 32-year-old Ford – with help from his chief assistant James Bishop — tried to wheel the vehicle outside. The vehicle, however, was too wide to make it out through that door. Ford then took an axe and managed to make a large enough opening through a wall to roll out his Quadricycle.

With Bishop bicycling ahead to warn carriages and pedestrians to stay out of the way, Ford then drove the vehicle along Detroit’s Grand River Avenue and circled three major thoroughfares. The Ford Quadricycle experienced one temporary breakdown due to a faulty spring, but otherwise the test drive proved to be a big success. Ford went on to establish the Henry Ford Company, and then the Ford Motor Company, and the rest is transportation history. The original Ford Quadricycle can be seen today at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan.

For more information on the Ford Quadricycle, please check out https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ford_Quadricycle and https://www.thehenryford.org/collections-and-research/digital-collections/artifact/252049/


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