September 22, 1893 – Duryea brothers introduce the US to the automobile

On this day in 1893 brothers Frank and Charles Duryea debuted what is believed to be the first operational automobile in the United States on the streets of Springfield, Massachusetts. In the first attempt the car came to a sudden halt after just a few hundred feet, as the belt transmission failed. Frank made a slight adjustment to the design and the car traveled more than half a mile later in the day. While there is some controversy between the brothers as to who was the mastermind behind the project, it is commonly believed that following the debut Charles went to Illinois to continue with his bicycle business and Frank continued building on the automotive design. A big improvement was replacing the belt transmission with gears and friction clutches. In 1896 Frank produced 13 identical cars from his design, launching the Duryea Motor Wagon Company and becoming the first US business to produce multiple copies of an automobile and place them for sale. The brothers differences were not settled and they continued on their separate ways. Charles went on to produce several vehicles, including numerous 3-wheeled creations which were ultimately unsuccessful. In 1904 the Frank launched the Stevens-Duryea Company, which manufactured automobiles out of Springfield and was in operation until the 1920s. Frank however retired as vice president in 1915.  PicsThe first Duryea vehicle, which is in the SmithsonianCharles Duryea in c 1895Frank Duryea in c 1945

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