Indiana Automotive Innovation

Indiana’s documented automotive innovation began with Elwood Haynes’ kitchen experiment on an internal combustion engine in the fall of 1893. Haynes’ research and development led to the demonstration of his “Pioneer” automobile along Pumpkinvine Pike, on the outskirts of Kokomo, on Independence Day, 1894. Haynes and two passengers traveled at a speed of seven miles an hour and drove about one and one-half miles further into the country. He then turned the auto around, and ran the four miles into town without making a single stop.

1894 Haynes Pioneer
1894 Haynes Pioneer

If you use the accepted definition of the production as the manufacture of 12 or more vehicles of the same design, more than 200 different makes of autos were made in Indiana since 1896. Indiana-built autos featured many innovations. Some are included in the following list.

1902 Marmon had an air-cooled overhead valve V-twin engine with pressure lubrication.

1903 Haynes-Apperson featured a tilting steering column for easy access of the driver.

1911 Haynes was the first to equip an open car with a top, windshield, headlamps, and a speedometer as standard equipment.

1913 Premier and Studebaker concurrently introduced a six-cylinder engine with mono block engine casting.

1918 The Cole Aero-Eight introduced the use of balloon tires.

1922 The Duesenberg Model A introduced hydraulic brakes and overhead camshaft straight-eight engines.

1926 Stutz introduced safety-glass windshields on high-end models.

1929 The Cord Model L-29 introduced front-wheel drive.

1929 Marmon featured factory-installed radios.

1932 The Duesenberg Model SJ debuted factory-installed supercharging.

1936 The Cord Model 810 featured disappearing headlights, rheostat-controlled instrument lights, variable speed windshield wipers, and full unit-body construction.

1937 Studebaker introduced windshield washers.

1949 Crosley introduced disc brakes.

1963 The Studebaker Avanti introduced seat belts as optional equipment.

1963 Avanti
1963 Avanti

So, the next time you are driving along in your automobile, you might wonder were we’d be without Indiana’s automotive innovation?

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