1869: The inventor of first fuel-powered vehicle was born

08/27/2018

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This is the story of Frank Duryea and how he brought the first gas-powered vehicle to reality.

It was a relatively normal day in Washburn of Illinois, 1869 but it marked the birth of the person who invented the first vehicle operated by gas, in the US, and in the whole world.

The inventor's name is Frank Duryea. He and his older brother, who later fought him harshly over the ownership of the patent behind that vehicle, were born in a poor farm, a place where no one could ever think that could create such an innovative inventor. When they reached the age of 24, they designed the first ever car that runs on gas, and that's when the dispute began. They both claim that even though they built the car together, the original idea belonged to only an individual brother. Till now, no one really knows the truth. But as an old saying, the winner is the one who writes history, in this case, the one who lived longer. The younger brother, Alex lived longer than his brother Charles and thus persisted that he singlehandedly invented the car himself. 

2 brothers on the first fuel-powered car

They both claimed the ownership of the patent behind the car

In the end, nothing matters anymore, Americans only need to know that Frank was the one who created the car and also its first driver. He gave the first test drive in an afternoon of the September 1893. He made it 600 yards from his house and turned the wheel to turn the corner, the loosely put car fell into pieces. But it didn't stop him from standing up, patching the car up and drove nearly 1 mile more. He even made many trips after that, with reinforced parts, of course. 

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2 men in their gas-powered car

Despite having to drive through a snow storm, they managed to win the race

It didn't take long for them to exploit the vehicle commercially. After nearly two years of testing and developing, they founded their first company named the Duryea Motor Wagon Company in 1895. In order to promote their one-of-a-kind product, they managed to sign up for the USA first car race held by the Chicago Times. The route stretched from Chicago, all the way to Evanston. Despite the murderous snowstorm that buried the road in seemingly impenetrable walls of snow, they managed to get to Evanston and back in less than 10 hours (25 km/h, which is an unbelievable record at the time).  

4 years later, Frank left the company, took 2 years off to travel and decided to come back in 1891 to start another company operating in the same field of car manufacturing. He once again left his job after one decade and a half and said farewell to the working life. He lived the rest of his life comfortably by the amount of money he had made in his whole life.

>>> To see more fun facts about cars: click here

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