The Ford Quadricycle was
the first vehicle developed by Henry Ford. Ford's first car was a simple frame
with an ethanol-powered engine and four bicycle wheels mounted on it. |
The earliest cars were hand built, one by one, and very expensive. The peculiar machines were seen as toys for the rich. In the 1890s, the "horseless carriage" was a relatively new idea, with no one having a fixed, universal idea of what a car should look like or how it should work. Most of the first car builders were inventors, rather than businessmen, working with their imaginations and the parts they had on hand. Thus, the invention of the Quadricycle marks an important innovation as a proto-automobile that would lay the foundation for future, more practical designs to follow.
On June 4, 1896 in a tiny workshop behind his home on 58 Bagley Street, Ford put the finishing touches on his pure ethanol-powered motor car. After more than two years of experimentation, Ford, at the age of 32, had completed his first experimental automobile. He dubbed his creation the "Quadricycle," so named because it ran on four bicycle tires, and/or because of the means through which the engine drove the back wheels. The success of the little vehicle led to the founding of the Henry Ford Company and then later the Ford Motor Company in 1903.
The two cylinder engine could produce 4 horsepower. The Quadricycle was driven by a chain. The transmission only had two gears (first for 10 mph (16 km/h), 2nd for 20 mph (32 km/h)) and did not have a reverse gear. The tiller-steered machine had wire wheels and a 3 US gal (11 L) fuel tank under the seat. Ford test drove it on June 4, 1896, after various test drives, achieving a top speed of 20 mph (32 km/h).
Ford would later go on to found the Ford Motor Company and become one of the world's richest men.
Today the original Quadricycle resides at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan.
“I went up town this morning and got another load of coal 3550#. Then I fixed up the wagon and went and drew three loads of flint on the main road this afternoon. No rain today except a shower about two or three o’clock this morning. Rained last night between 7 and 8 o’clock.”