Tag Archives: Overland

Mileposts in Indiana automotive history-Part One

Hardly a week goes by without someone remarking to me about a milepost in Indiana automotive history. Indianapolis once had more automobile manufacturers than Detroit. Movie stars and kings once clamored for specific models made only in Indiana. The state was also home to several innovations such as tilt steering, cruise control, and front-wheel drive.

In this series of posts, I’ll share some of my list of Indiana’s mileposts in automotive history. I wish to share this automotive heritage to energize and excite auto enthusiasts to get involved with collectible cars.

Early 19th century Construction of the Indiana section of the National Road from Richmond to West Terre Haute took place between 1827 and 1839. It was the road that led wagons and coaches westward.

1885 The world’s first gas pump is invented by Sylvanus F. Bowser of Fort Wayne.

1911 Auburn
1911 Auburn
with Bowser pump

1891 Charles H. Black of Indianapolis garners the dubious distinction of having Indiana’s first auto accident when he ran a German-manufactured Benz automobile into downtown store windows.

1894 Elwood Haynes demonstrates one of the earliest American automobiles along Pumpkinvine Pike on the outskirts of Kokomo.

1894 Haynes Pioneer
Elwood Haynes
with 1894 Haynes Pioneer

1895 Elwood Haynes introduces the first use of aluminum alloy in an automobile in the Haynes-Apperson 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.

1900 Tom and Harry Warner, Abbott and J.C. Johnson, Col. William Hitchcock, and Thomas Morgan found Warner Gear Company of Muncie. Warner Gear’s first major contribution to the industry was the differential.

1902 The Marmon motorcar, designed by Indianapolis automaker 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 has long since become universal to internal combustion piston engine design.

1902 The first Studebaker motorcar, introduced in South Bend, is an electric car. Studebaker Bros. had produced more than 750,000 wagons, buggies, and carriages since 1852.

1902 Studebaker Stanhope
1902 Studebaker Stanhope

1903 The Overland 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, is a single-cylinder runabout with solid tires and a steering tiller. Charles, Frank and Morris Eckhart of Eckhart Carriage Co. started the firm with $7,500 in capital.

1903 The Haynes-Apperson is designed with a tilting steering column to allow low 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.

Marmon 1904 Model A
Marmon 1904 Model A

1905 The Haynes Model L has a semi-automatic transmission.

For more information on Indiana automotive heritage check out our book Indiana Cars: A History of the Automobile in Indiana

How shall I spend my vacation?

How shall I spend my vacation? The question in 1914 according to Joseph M. Block, secretary of the Gibson Automobile Company located on North Capitol Ave in Indianapolis, was settled once and for all. “Nearly everyone is independent of the railroads nowadays, and the first breath of spring no longer means the beginning of a long and arduous study of railroad and steamship folders”.

Automobiles relieved the vacationer from visions of long, hot and dusty rides in a stuffy railroad train to reach sometimes overcrowded summer places. When traveling by auto the vision was cool vistas, shaded country roads, green fields, hills and valleys.

1914 Overland
1914 Overland

“Every year, said Block who distributed the Willys-Overland automobile, thousands more Americans are taking vacations in a motor car, and enjoying every minute of them. They come back from those trips rested in mind and body, refreshed and gloriously healthy from open air touring.” Overland dealers reported a rush of orders for spring delivery, because patrons wanted their cars early so that they could prepare for a real vacation.

It’s interesting how the automobile provided new mobility for the common man over 100 years ago. Just imagine getting in a touring car and motoring out of the metropolis into the country side back then. With our modern highway systems we can readily jump in our car and in a short time be in the country. For many of us the automobile is our primary means of vacation travel. We don’t have to rely on public or commercial means of transportation.

1914 Marmon
1914 Marmon

We’ve come a long way in 100 years. It’s time to take the car on vacation.

For more information on Indiana rides & drives follow this link.