1885 The world’s first gas pump is invented by Sylvanus F. Bowser of Fort Wayne, IN
1891 Charles H. Black of Indianapolis garners the dubious distinction of having Indiana’s first auto accident when he ran his German manufactured Benz automobile into two downtown store windows.
1894 Elwood Haynes demonstrates one of the earliest American automobiles along Pumpkinvine Pike, on the outskirts of Kokomo
1895 Elwood Haynes introduces the first use of aluminum alloy in an automobile in the Haynes-Apperson engine crankcase.
1896 The corrugated metal pipe culvert is invented by two Crawfordsville men, Stanley Simpson, the town engineer, and James H. Watson, a sheet metal worker. Their patented pipe culvert has now become a common sight on highway construction projects around the world.
1898 The Munson Company of La Porte Indiana, built one of the first gasoline-electric hybrid cars in America. The Munson employed electric starting with their system 14 years before it became popular for gasoline internal combustion engines.
1900 Tom and Harry Warner, Abbott and J.C. Johnson, Col. William Hitchcock and Thomas Morgan founded Warner Gear Company of Muncie. Warner Gear’s first major contribution to the industry was the differential.
1902 The Marmon motorcar, designed by Indianapolis auto maker Howard C. Marmon, has an air-cooled overhead valve V-twin engine and a revolutionary lubrication system that uses a drilled crankshaft to keep its engine bearings lubricated with oil fed under pressure by a gear pump. This is the earliest automotive application of a system that had long since become universal to internal combustion piston engine design.
1902 The first Studebaker motorcar, introduced in South Bend, IN, is an electric car. Studebaker Bros. had produced more than 750,000 wagons, buggies, and carriages since 1852.
1902 The Overland built in Terre, IN, has its engine in the front and rear-seat entrances are through the sides rather than the rear.
1903 The Auburn motorcar introduced by Auburn Automobile Co. of Auburn, IN, is a single-cylinder runabout with solid tires and a steering tiller. Charles, Frank and Morris Eckhardt of Eckhardt Carriage Co., started the firm with $7,500 in capital.
1903 The Haynes-Apperson is designed with a tilting steering column, to allow easy access for the driver or passenger upon entering or leaving the vehicle.
1903 Premier claims that the oak leaf on its radiator badge is the first use of an emblem as an automobile trademark.
1905 The Haynes Model L has a semi-automatic transmission.
1906 American Motors Company of Indianapolis develops the American Underslung car, one of the first examples of low center of gravity engineering.
1906 Maxwell-Briscoe (predecessor of Chrysler Corporation) builds its plant in New Castle , it is the largest automobile plant in the nation.
1906 National Motor Vehicle Company introduced a six-cylinder model, one of the first sixes in America.
1907 Willys-Overland Motors is established by auto dealer John North Willys who takes over control of Overland Automobile of Indianapolis and moves it in 1909 to the old Pope-Toledo plant at Toledo, Ohio.
1909 Carl G. Fisher, James A. Allison, Arthur C. Newby and Frank H. Wheeler pool $250,000 in capital to form the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Company and transform an Indianapolis west side farm into a two-and-a-half-mile oval that becomes synonymous with automobile racing. The Speedway was designed as an automotive testing ground for U.S. manufactured automobiles to establish American auto supremacy. After the August motorcycle and auto races the macadam track was repaved with 3,200,000 ten-pound bricks.
1910 The Cole Model 30 Flyer is among the first autos to offer pneumatic tires on demountable rims.
1910 The Cole Motor Car Company provides the first presidential automobile to President William Howard Taft.
1911 The first Indianapolis 500 (-mile) motorcar race is held May 30. A Marmon Wasp averages 75 miles per hour to win. The Wasp employs streamlining via elongated front and rear sections and added the innovation of a rearview mirror.
1911 The Reeves Octoauto of Columbus, IN, introduces the first automobile powered by a V-8 engine.
1911 Haynes Automobile Company is the first to equip an open car with a top, a windshield, head lamps and a speedometer as standard equipment.
1912 Stutz Motor Car Company is founded by Harry C. Stutz, who merges his Stutz Auto Parts with Ideal Motor Car.
1912 The Davis car is the first to have a center control gear shift and the Bendix self-starter.
1913 On July 1, the Lincoln Highway Association is created with Henry B. Joy (president Packard Motor Company) as president and Carl G. Fisher as vice president. The Lincoln Highway is conceived as America’s first transcontinental highway.
1913 Premier and Studebaker (both Indiana-built autos) concurrently introduce a six-cylinder engine featuring monobloc engine casting.
1914 The Haynes is one of the first autos to offer the Vulcan Electric Gear Shift as standard equipment.
1914 The Stutz Bearcat is introduced with a design patterned on the White Squadron racing cars that won victories the previous year. Stutz also produces family cars while the Bearcat provides lively competition for the Mercer made at Trenton, NJ.
1916 The Marmon 34 priced at $2,700 and up is introduced with a lightweight engine of aluminum. Designed by Howard Marmon with his Hungarian-American engineer Fred Moskovics and Alanson P. Brush, its only cast-iron engine components are its cylinder sleeves and one-piece “firing head.” Body, fenders, hood, transmission case, differential housing, clutch cone wheel, and radiator shell are all of aluminum.
1919 Westcott Motor Car Company introduces front and rear bumpers as standard equipment.
1920 The Duesenberg brothers (Fred S. and August S.) set up shop at Indianapolis to make motorcars.
1921 The Lafayette introduces thermostatically-controlled radiator shutters.
1922 The Model A Duesenberg introduced by Duesenberg Motor Distributing Co. of Indianapolis, is 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 the luxury cars are sold, a number that will rise to 140 in 1923.
1923 The Cole Volante introduces the use of balloon tires.
1924 Chicago executive E. L. (Erret Lobban) Cord, 30, joins Auburn Automobile, gives its unsold inventory of 700 cars some cosmetic touch-ups, nets $500,000, and breathes new life into the company which is now owned by Chicago financiers including William Wrigley, Jr., but producing only six cars per day. Cord will double sales in 1925, introduce a new model, outperform and undersell the competition, and become president of Auburn in 1926.
1926 Safety-glass windshields are installed as standard equipment on high-priced Stutz motorcar models.
1926 E. L. Cord’s Auburn Automobile Co. acquires Duesenberg Automobile and Motor Co.
1926 Warner Gear Company of Muncie develops the standardized transmission. It could be mass produced at half the cost of specialty transmissions and is suitable for use in almost any automobile.
1928 Studebaker sets 160 endurance or speed records.
1928 Auburn comes out with an 8-cylinder, 115-horsepower model advertised with a picture of 115 stampeding horses. Its boat-tailed speedster travels at 108.6 miles per hour at Daytona, FL., in March and later in the year averages 84.7 miles per hour for 25 hours at Atlantic City, NJ.
1929 The first motorcar (Cord L-29) with front-wheel drive is introduced by E. L. Cord’s Auburn Automobile Company.
1929 The Model J Duesenberg introduced by E. L. Cord’s Duesenberg, Inc., is a real “Duesey.” The costly 265-horsepower luxury car can go up to 116 miles per hour and will be built until 1936.
1929 Marmon warrants a listing in the Guinness Book of Records for factory-installed radio.
1929 The Roosevelt has the distinction of being the first eight-cylinder car in the world to sell for less than $1,000.
1931 In February, before production started, the Society of Automotive Engineers honored Colonel Howard Marmon for “the most notable engineering achievement of 1930,” his huge and gleaming V-16 engine design. The Society was especially impressed by his extensive use of lightweight aluminum, generally a difficult metal to work and maintain in automobile power plants.
1931 Studebaker introduces free-wheeling.
1931 Stutz introduces drop-side bodies, an American production first. These bodies had doors that dropped to the running boards and covered the frame rails completely. Within a few years all American cars followed Stutz’s lead; this drop-side body and sponsorship of Weymann construction are Stutz’s great contributions to the advance of coachwork.
1931 Auburn motorcar sales soar to 34,228 and profits equal those of 1929 after a depressing 1930 sales year. E. L. Cord signs up 1,000 new dealers as his car climbs from 23rd place in retail sales to 13th on the strength of the new Auburn 8-98. The new Auburn is the first rear-drive motorcar with a frame braced by an X cross member and the first moderately-priced car with L.G.S. Free Wheeling.
1932 The first gasoline pump that could accurately measure dispensed gas and give the price in dollars and cents is introduced in Fort Wayne.
1932 Graham Brothers of Evansville, IN, introduced full-skirted fenders.
1932 The Duesenberg SJ is the first stock automobile to be equipped with a centrifugal type supercharger, although some have previously been fitted with Roots type blowers.
1932 The Stutz DV-32 is one of the few American cars equipped with a four-speed transmission.
1932 William B. Barnes invents overdrive a device that would increase the life of the engine, yet improve fuel efficiency. Muncie’s Warner Gear backs the development.
1936 The Cord 810 introduced by Auburn Automobile Company, is a sleek modern motorcar with advanced features that include disappearing headlights, concealed door hinges, rheostat-controlled instrument lights, variable speed windshield wipers, Bendix Electric Hand (steering column-mounted electric gear pre-selection unit), and was the first automobile in this country to adopt unit body construction in its full sense (Chrysler – Airflow and Lincoln – Zepher used modified forms).
1937 Studebaker is the first American car to offer windshield washers.
1937 Cord and Duesenberg production ended when E. L. Cord shifted his focus to other interests.
1941 Studebaker’s President Skyway coupe premiered America’s first one-piece curved windshield.
1946 Crosley introduced a sedan and coupe among the first American production cars with slab-side car styling that would become the industry standard. The Crosley “CoBra” shaft-driven, overhead-cam engine was a first in the low-price field.
1947 Guide Lamp introduced plastic tail light lenses.
1947 Studebaker launched America’s first all new automobiles of the postwar era. The five-passenger coupe featured a wrap-around rear window.
1947 Crosley added an all-steel bodied station wagon, which predated Plymouth’s offering by a year. Another model in the line was the Sport Utility, which was a variation of the two-door sedan. Not the four-wheel drive vehicle we know today.
1949 Crosley debuted hydraulic disc brakes on all four wheels on the full line of cars and trucks. Their famous Hotshot sports car arrived in mid-summer. It was America’s first mass produced postwar sports car, which predated Chevrolet Corvette mass production by five years.
1950 Studebaker ranked as one of the first independents to develop its own automatic transmission while working with Borg-Warner of Muncie, Indiana.
1951 Studebaker introduced the post-World War II small block V-8 engine, preceding Chevrolet’s first V-8 by four years.
1957 Studebaker introduced the no-frills Scotsman series. These bottom-line cars were designed to sell at the lowest price of any standard American car line.
1958 Ralph R. Teetor (President of Perfect Circle Corporation) invents cruise control, introduced on the Chrysler Imperial, New Yorker and Windsor models.
1962 Studebaker introduced the Avanti personal luxury car. The car’s interior was virtually all safety padded, and a built-in steel safety girder was concealed in the roof, surrounding the passenger compartment.
1963 The Studebaker Wagonaire station wagon debuted with a sliding roof over the cargo area. This configuration with the help of a one-piece tailgate, allowed the cargo area to be opened up for carrying tall loads.
1964 Studebaker breaks with the majors and becomes the first maker to offer seat belts as standard equipment.
1984 The Hummer is introduced by AM General of Mishawaka. Originally intended as a military personnel carrier, the Hummer is now sold as an off-road (street-legal) general-purpose four-passenger vehicle.