Duryea Automobile, 1893-94

This 1893-94 Duryea is one of the earliest American-made automobiles. On Sept. 21, 1893, in Springfield, Mass., Frank Duryea road-tested a second-hand carriage with a gasoline engine. In 1896, Duryea, his brother Charles and financial backers founded the Duryea Motor Wagon Co., the first American company to manufacture and sell automobiles.

The Duryea automobile’s one-cylinder, four-cycle, four-horsepower, water-cooled gasoline engine lies almost horizontally beneath the carriage body, and its cylinder head extends backward above the rear axle. The automobile has a gear transmission (replacing the original friction transmission), a spray carburetor and a make-and-break ignition.

This Duryea automobile was donated to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History in 1920.  This item is one of 137 million artifacts, works of art and specimens in the Smithsonian’s collection. It is not currently on display.

Posted: 21 September 2011
About the Author:

Jessica Porter Sadeq has worked in the Central Office of Public Affairs since June 2007. In August 2008 she joined the Internal Communications department as an internal communications coordinator.