Throughout the past, Indiana manufacturers have made major contributions to the automobile. For example, in 1902, the Marmon motorcar had an air-cooled overhead valve V-twin engine and a revolutionary lubrication system that used a drilled crankshaft to keep its engine bearings lubricated with oil-fed under pressure by a gear pump. This was the earliest automotive application of a system that has long since become universal to internal combustion piston engine design.
Would you believe tilt-steering was introduced in 1903by Haynes? The 1903 Haynes use of a tilting steering column allowed easy access for the driver and/or passenger upon entering of leaving the vehicle. This feature didn’t become popular on most production cars until about seventy years later.
In 1911 Haynes Automobile Company was the first to equip an open car with a top, a windshield, head lamps and a speedometer as standard equipment.
Studebaker introduced a deferred payment plan in 1916 with an initial 25 percent cash payment and 12 equal monthly payments. In less than ten years, 50 percent of all cars sold in America were bought on time.
In 1922, The Model A Duesenberg was the first U.S. production motorcar with hydraulic brakes, the first with an overhead camshaft, and the first U.S. straight eight engine. Ninety-two of these luxury cars were sold in 1922, a number that rose to 140 in 1923.
Stutz installed safety-glass windshields as standard equipment on its 1926 high-priced motorcar models.
The first motorcar with front-wheel drive, The Cord L-29, was introduced by E. L. Cord’s Auburn Automobile Company. Front-wheel drive didn’t become popular for another 50 years. Also in 1929 Marmon warranted a listing in the Guiness Book of Records for its factory-installed radio.
The Cord 810 introduced in 1936 was a sleek modern motorcar with advanced features that include disappearing headlights, rheostat-controlled instrument lights, variable speed windshield wipers, a steering column mounted electric gear pre-selection unit, and was the first automobile in this country to adopt full unit body construction.
Studebaker was the first American car to offer windshield washers in 1937.
Ralph Teetor, Perfect Circle Corporation president, invented cruise control debuting in 1958 on the Chrysler Imperial, New Yorker and Windsor models.
For the 1964 model year, its last in Indiana, Studebaker broke with the majors and became the first U.S. maker to offer seat belts as standard equipment.
That’s the story of Indiana automotive innovations. For more information on Indiana cars & companies, follow this link.