Haynes America’s First Car

In 1912, the Haynes Automobile Company began using the trademark and slogan “Haynes: America’s First Car” to remind the public of the historical significance of their product. This slogan upset some of the other early auto pioneers who questioned the legitimacy of the claim. Let’s look at some of the thinking behind this claim.

1894 Haynes Pioneer
Elwood Haynes in the 1894 Pioneer
Copyright Elwood Haynes Museum

The Haynes advertising department stretched the point by using 1893 as the date for the beginning of the Haynes “Pioneer.” This was when Elwood Haynes purchased the Sintz gasoline engine at the Chicago World’s Fair and began experimenting and planning his automobile. He demonstrated the car on July 4, 1894, along Pumpkinvine Pike on the outskirts of Kokomo.

The claim was based on the grounds that the 1893 Duryea was only a motorized buggy and the Haynes Pioneer was built from the ground up as a self-propelled vehicle.

It is also reported that Elwood Haynes formulated an agreement with John W. Lambert who demonstrated America’s first successful automobile in January 1891, in Ohio City, Ohio, just across Indiana’s eastern border. Lambert was unable to generate sufficient sales for this early vehicle and didn’t challenge the claim.

1914 Haynes Model 28 Touring Car
1914 Haynes Model 28 Touring Car

The Haynes Automobile Company advertised in a number of national magazines and newspapers. The company sponsored a double-page advertisement in the Indianapolis Star on July 1, 1913, when the two Haynes autos departed on the Indiana Automobile Manufacturers’ Association – Indiana to Pacific tour. The Haynes’ were part of the 18 automobiles and two trucks who participated in the tour from Indianapolis to Los Angeles to demonstrate that Indiana-built autos had the stamina to make a cross country trip.

That’s the story behind the trademark and slogan “Haynes: America’s First Car.”

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