Friday, November 2, 2012

November 2: Locomobile

On this date in History ... 1902:

The Locomobile company, famous for their expensive, luxury, steam engine cars, delivers its first gas powered car to a New York buyer. The car was designed by race car driver and engineer Andrew Riker. 

Riker’s cars were considered to be the best built cars in America. A 2-yr old Riker was the first American car to win the 1908 Vanderbilt Cup, a 258 mile, 11 lap race in Long Island. The 4-cylinder, 120 horsepower, two-seater winning car of the international race made Europe take notice of America and its car manufacturing efforts and skills.  The car, dubbed “Old 16”, is on display at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn.

Unreliable and inconvenient as the Locomobile steam engines were (it took 30 minutes to heat the water to steam and the tank needed refilled about every 20 minutes), it was the first car to be used in war.  The British used it in the Boer Wars in the late 1800s in the capacity of a searchlight tractor, a generator and a catering vehicle.  One of the bright spots about the car, at least in British eyes, was the ability to brew a cup of tea by using the water in the boiler.

The company went out of business in 1929.

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