Twenty years of Haynes innovation explored 1893-1913

When Elwood Haynes left Indianapolis with the Indiana Automobile Manufacturers’ Association Indiana-Pacific Tour on July 1, 1913, he was celebrating 20 years of automotive innovation. It is interesting to reflect on those first 20 years from our vantage point some 100 years later.

First, let’s look at Haynes’ “Pioneer” automobile that he demonstrated on the outskirts of Kokomo on July 4, 1894. Haynes conceived his idea of a “self-propelled vehicle” in 1890 while driving a horse and buggy and inspecting a natural gas field near Greentown, Indiana. After first considering steam and later electricity as motive forces, Haynes found a one-horsepower Sintz gasoline engine at the Chicago World’s Fair in the summer of 1893.

1894 Haynes Pioneer
Elwood Haynes in the 1894 Pioneer
Copyright Elwood Haynes Museum

In the fall of 1893, Haynes tested his Sintz engine mounted on sawhorses in the family’s kitchen. The engine ran with such speed and vibration that it pulled itself from its attachments to the floor. This prompted Haynes to design and build a much heavier chassis frame than he had originally planned. He also devised the test procedure to determine the amount of power and gear ratios necessary to move the machine at a speed of seven to eight miles per hour up a 4 percent incline.

On the afternoon of July 4, as the men rolled the strange-looking contraption out of the shop, men, women, and children rushed out and encircled the machine. Out of concern for the spectators, they arranged to tow the machine three miles from the center of town, to a spot along Pumpkinvine Pike. They started the engine, climbed aboard, and moved off at a speed of about seven miles per hour. Haynes drove a mile and half further into the country and then chugged all the way back into town without making a single stop.

Haynes’ innovation quickly took off. His second automobile built in 1895 introduced the first use of aluminum in automotive engine design. In 1907, he received patents for nickel and chromium alloys used in auto ignition systems. The Haynes Automobile Company was the first to equip an open car with a top, a windshield, headlamps, and a speedometer as standard equipment in 1911.

Haynes No. 13
Haynes No. 13
1913 IAMA Tour participant

A six-cylinder engine joined the Haynes line for 1913, and later that year the Vulcan Electric Gearshift was introduced for a short run on all models. Other standard features on these models included: hand buffed leather seating, an electric starting and lighting system with two large headlights, two cowl lights, a tail light, sight oil feed gauge, an auxiliary air pressure pump with gauge, rim wind clock, rain-vision ventilating windshield, coat and foot rails, electric horn, tire irons, full tool equipment, and one demountable rim. How’s that for a list of standard features?

In 1914, Haynes commented, “The best speed attained with the “Pioneer” was about eight or nine miles per hour. Whereas, nineteen years later, the Haynes “Six” Model 23, on which I was a passenger during the 1913 tour of the Indiana Automobile Manufacturers’ Association to the Pacific Coast, coasted into Columbia, MO, over a good stretch of highway, at 35 miles per hour.”

The Haynes Automobile Company of Kokomo, IN, was a good benchmark for automotive innovation during its first 20 years in business from 1893 to 1913. Thank you Elwood Haynes for your innovation in automobiles and alloys.

For more information on our automotive heritage follow this link.

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