Henry Ford’s First Car

Throughout 2017, we explore Detroit’s history with 12 artifacts — starting with an invention that forever changed the city


Published:

While it wasn’t the first car to be built in Detroit, Henry Ford’s Quadricycle is arguably the start of the Motor City. Between 1894 and 1896, Ford built this automobile prototype in a shed behind a house he rented on Bagley Avenue while working as an engineer at Edison Illuminating Company. (It would be 12 years before Ford found commercial success in the automobile industry with his Model T.)

As its name implies, the Quadricycle utilizes bicycle parts, including bike tires and a chain drive (the seat came from a horse buggy). The ethanol-powered, two-cylinder engine could produce 4 horsepower. 

Clearly, Ford must have known that there would be no stopping his automotive ambitions: the original, which probably only achieved top speeds of around 20 mph, was built without brakes. 


To see more American innovations, visit The Henry Ford Museum; thehenryford.org.
Edit Module
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags

Archive »Related Content

Web Exclusive: Meeting the Beatles

Fifty years ago, a Detroit-area teenager won a contest to meet The Beatles.

Rocking in Style

John Varvatos and Alice Cooper talk about their musical and fashion influences — and Detroit’s comeback

Well-Versed in Classics

DSO oboe player tools around town in a rare pair of turquoise 1962 Lincoln Continentals

All Dressed Up & Ready ...

Cobo Center is still a work in progress, but Auto Show visitors will notice a host of improvements

One Night Only: Steven Spielberg and John Williams at the DSO

Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Most Popular

  1. The Makings of the Shinola Hotel
    When the Detroit brand’s first foray into hospitality opens its doors, it’ll offer customers...
  2. My Two Christmases
    An Armenian-Iranian, Detroit-based writer reflects on transposing the holiday across continents
  3. New Year’s Eve, Brooklyn Style
    Tips for celebrating 2019 from the pros at Brooklyn Outdoor
  4. Main Review: SheWolf
    Born in Detroit but inspired by Rome, SheWolf takes diners on a culinary journey
  5. The Art of Gifting
    Metro Detroit tastemakers from all walks of life offer a glimpse of what’s on their holiday...
  6. Comeback Catering
    Dish, in Detroit, pushes through hard times with consistently delicious food
  7. Meet the Makers: Tait Design Co.
    How an after-work hobby ascended to a booming business
  8. Precious Metals
    Layering necklaces, stacking rings, and placing bangle upon glitzy bangle: a definitive guide to...
  9. Food Recipe: Braised Beef Brisket
    Chef Aaron Lowen, of Empire Kitchen & Cocktails, shares one of his favorite holiday recipes
  10. An Hour with ... Ricki Friedman
    Founder, Break the Weight