is now part of the permanent exhibit of the
Kokomo Automotive Heritage Museum
Copyright © 2009 Dennis E. Horvath
The Pioneer II, built in 1895, is back home again in Kokomo Indiana. The car is now part of the permanent exhibit of the City of Firsts Automotive Heritage Museum, which returned the vehicle to its birthplace on July 2, 1999.
Pioneer II was constructed by Kokomo residents Elwood Haynes and Elmer Apperson to compete in the Chicago Times-Herald race, the country’s first horseless carriage competition. Haynes’ first car was demonstrated on July 4, 1894, and has become know as “America’s First Car.” The second car, Pioneer II, included a new horizontally opposed two-cylinder four horsepower engine and pneumatic tires. The Apperson brothers built the engine using an aluminum alloy developed by Haynes as a sturdy, lightweight substitute for cast iron. Haynes’ alloy is the first recorded use of aluminum in
an automobile engine.
On the morning of the Times-Herald race, Thanksgiving Day, 1895, a thick blanket of snow and slush greeted competitors. This was an unfortunate event for Haynes and Apperson. Their new automobile skidded in the snow and broke a wheel in an attempt to avoid a streetcar track rut while making its way to the starting line. With no spare available, their hopes to compete ended. However, the Haynes-Apperson entry did receive a $150 prize for its meritorious design feature — the reduction of vibration by balancing the engine.
In 1896, Pioneer II was shown at a number of fairs and exhibitions. After these events the existence of Pioneer II was not recorded.
However, the Haynes-Apperson history continued. Their first sale was to P.C. Lewis of Catskill, New York, in the fall of 1896. The Haynes-Apperson Company was formally incorporated in 1898 and set out to dramatically increase its production.
In the early 1990’s, Pioneer II was found abandoned in an old Chicago warehouse. The rusted frame was in a wet basement and the body was on the third floor. The finder
eventually advertised the car for sale. Historic car expert and restorer Paul Isgrigg of Columbus, Indiana, identified the car as the second car built by Haynes and Apperson. Isgrigg bought the car and painstakingly restored it to its historically correct, immaculate beauty.
In 1994, Isgrigg sold the car to William Backers of Fulton, Missouri. Backers owns a potato chip factory and, as a hobby, maintains a car museum with 80 cars. In summer 1999, the Kokomo community formed a committee to return Pioneer II to its birthplace. In a 15-day time span the committee solicited 95 $1,000 donations to buy this historic car.
The car now resides at the City of Firsts Automotive Heritage Museum, 1500 North Reed Road (corner of U.S. 31 and North Street), Kokomo Indiana. The museum is located 50 miles north of Indianapolis.
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