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Carriages Without Horses: J. Frank Duryea and the Birth of the American Automobile Industry

$39.95

Richard P. Scharchburg

Product Description

In September 1893, little could 23-year-old mechanic J. Frank Duryea dream of the changes that would be brought about by his creation – a frail gasoline buggy that made its debut on the streets of Springfield, Massachusetts. ‘When I began work upon the horseless carriage back in 1892, no one could see what the automobile would mean to my fellow beings in peace or in war. And yet, the automobile to this very day contains not a few of the fundamental features which I was the first to devise, design, build, or order built to my specifications.’ – J. Frank Duryea (1942) ‘What we have is a family feud – without the violence – rivaling the legendary Hatfields and McCoys.’ Charles E. and J. Frank Duryea, two brothers from rural Illinois, were the founders of the American automobile industry. The Duryea Motor Wagon company was the first company organized in the United States for the manufacture of automobiles. The attention-getting, older brother Charles demanded – and to date has received – the principal credit for these pioneering accomplishments. A bitter family feud between the brothers, which was even carried on by their families after their deaths, further muddied the question about the individual brothers’ contributions. However, in Carriages Without Horses: J. Frank Duryea and the Birth of the American Automobile Industry, historian and author Richard P. Scharchburg proves that the quiet, self-effacing younger brother J. Frank Duryea is unquestionably entitled to as much credit as Charles, if not considerably more. J. Frank did the actual work of construction on the cars, and was responsible for the practical designing and engineering of all components (aside from the steering mechanism) of the Duryea cars. More than an account of the struggle for precedence between brothers, however, Carriages Without Horses tells the story of America’s first automobile company taking shape. Scharchburg covers the design and development of the first Duryea car, culminating with its successful operation on the streets of Springfield, Massachusetts on September 21, 1893. This book also covers: the landmark Chicago Times-Herald race of 1895, won by the Duryea car built and driven by J. Frank; the subsequent progress of the Duryea Motor Wagon Company; and, after the brothers went their separate ways, J. Frank’s 1901 founding of the Stevens-Duryea Company.