Duryea Brothers

September 22, 1893 – Duryea Brothers test first car

On this day in 1893 brothers Frank and Charles Duryea debuted their first automobile on the streets of Springfield, Massachusetts. The first test drive came to a sudden halt after just a few hundred feet due the failure of the transmission. Frank made a slight adjustment to the design and the car was back up and running, covering a half a mile later in the day. This event is often regarded as the first time an American manufactured, gasoline powered car was driven in the country.

Above: Duryea Patent. Top: Duryea Brothers

A second Duryea Wagon would be built in 1894 and entered in the Chicago Times Herald race the next year. The Duryea completed the 54 mile course ahead of the pack, winning the first automobile race in America.

The Duryea Motor Wagon Company officially launched in 1896. That year the company produced 13 identical vehicles. This marked was the first time a US business made multiple copies of an automobile and placed them for sale. However, their partnership would not last long.

1894 Duryea. The oldest known Duryea to survive. By Infrogmation CC BY-SA 3.0

By the end of the century the brothers split ways over differences in the handling of finances. Frank partnered with gun maker Stevens to produce the Stevens-Duryea until 1927. Charles continued to produce Duryea vehicles until 1917 from a factory in Reading, PA.

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