A list of Indiana auto firsts from the book Cruise IN: A guide to Indiana's automotive past and present.
For more information on the book be sure to visit the Web Site.
Early 19th century
world's first gas pump is invented by Sylvanus F. Bowser of
H. Black of
Haynes demonstrates one of the earliest American automobiles along Pumpkinvine
Pike, on the outskirts of
1895 Elwood Haynes introduces the first use of aluminum alloy in an automobile in the Haynes-Apperson engine crankcase.
1896 The corrugated metal pipe culvert is invented by two Crawfordsville men, Stanley Simpson, the town engineer, and James H. Watson, a sheet metal worker. Their patented pipe culvert has now become a common sight on highway construction projects around the world.
Munson Company of
1900 Tom and
Harry Warner, Abbott and J.C. Johnson, Col. William Hitchcock and Thomas Morgan
found Warner Gear Company of
Marmon motorcar, designed by
first Studebaker motorcar, introduced in
Auburn motorcar introduced by Auburn Automobile Co. of
1903 The Haynes-Apperson is designed with a tilting steering column, to allow easy access for the driver or passenger upon entering or leaving the vehicle.
1903 Premier claims that the oak leaf on its radiator badge is the first use of an emblem as an automobile trademark.
1905 The Haynes Model L has a semi-automatic transmission.
American Motors Company of
(predecessor of Chrysler Corporation) builds its plant in
National Motor Vehicle Company introduced a six-cylinder model, one of the
first sixes in
Willys-Overland Motors is established by auto dealer John North Willys who
takes over control of Overland
Automobile of Indianapolis and moves it in 1909 to the old Pope-Toledo plant at
1909 Carl G.
Fisher, James A. Allison, Arthur C. Newby and Frank H. Wheeler pool $250,000 in
capital to form the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Company and transform an
Indianapolis west side farm into a two-and-a-half-mile oval that becomes
synonymous with automobile racing. The
1910 The Cole Model 30 Flyer is among the first autos to offer pneumatic tires on demountable rims.
1910 The Cole Motor Car Company provides the first presidential automobile to President William Howard Taft.
Reeves Octoauto of
1911 Haynes Automobile Company is the first to equip an open car with a top, a windshield, head lamps and a speedometer as standard equipment.
1912 Stutz Motor Car Company is founded by Harry C. Stutz, who merges his Stutz Auto Parts with Ideal Motor Car.
1913 On July
1, the Lincoln Highway Association is created with Henry B. Joy (president
Packard Motor Company) as president and Carl G. Fisher as vice president. The
1913 Premier and Studebaker (both Indiana-built autos) concurrently introduce a six-cylinder engine featuring monobloc engine casting.
1914 The Haynes is one of the first autos to offer the Vulcan Electric Gear Shift as standard equipment.
Stutz Bearcat is introduced with a design patterned on the White Squadron
racing cars that won victories last year. Stutz also produces family cars while
the Bearcat provides lively competition for the Mercer made at
1916 The Marmon 34 priced at $2,700 and up is introduced with a "scientific lightweight" engine of aluminum. Designed by Howard Marmon with his Hungarian-American engineer Fred Moskovics and Alanson P. Brush, its only cast-iron engine components are its cylinder sleeves and one-piece "firing head." Body, fenders, hood, transmission case, differential housing, clutch cone wheel, and radiator shell are all of aluminum.
1919 Westcott Motor Car Company introduces front and rear bumpers as standard equipment.
Duesenberg brothers (Fred S. and August S.) set up shop at
Model A Duesenberg introduced by Duesenberg Motor Distributing Co. of
Indianapolis, is the first
1923 The Cole Volante introduces the use of balloon tires.
executive E. L. (Erret Lobban) Cord, 30, joins Auburn Automobile, gives its
unsold inventory of 700 cars some cosmetic touch-ups, nets $500,000, and
breathes new life into the company which is now owned by Chicago financiers
including William Wrigley, Jr., but producing only six cars per day. Cord will
double sales in 1925, introduce a new model, outperform and undersell the
competition, and become president of
1926 Safety-glass windshields are installed as standard equipment on high-priced Stutz motorcar models.
1926 E. L. Cord's Auburn Automobile Co. acquires Duesenberg Automobile and Motor Co.
Gear Company of
1928 Studebaker sets 160 endurance or speed records.
1929 The first motorcar (Cord L-29) with front-wheel drive is introduced by E. L. Cord's Auburn Automobile Company.
1929 The Model J Duesenberg introduced by E. L. Cord's Duesenberg, Inc., is a "real Duesey." The costly 265-horsepower luxury car can go 112 to 116 miles per hour and will be built until 1936.
1929 Marmon warrants a listing in the Guinness Book of Records for factory-installed radio.
1931 In February, before production started, the Society of Automotive Engineers honored Colonel Howard Marmon for "the most notable engineering achievement of 1930," his huge and gleaming V-16 engine design. The Society was especially impressed by his extensive use of lightweight aluminum, generally a difficult metal to work and maintain in automobile power plants.
1931 Studebaker introduces free-wheeling.
1931 Stutz introduces drop-side bodies, an American production first. These bodies had doors that dropped to the running boards and covered the frame rails completely. Within a few years all American cars followed Stutz's lead; this drop-side body and sponsorship of Weymann construction are Stutz's great contributions to the advance of coachwork.
first gasoline pump that could accurately measure dispensed gas and give the
price in dollars and cents is introduced in
1932 The Duesenberg SJ is the first stock automobile to be equipped with a centrifugal type supercharger, although some have previously been fitted with Roots type blowers.
1932 The Stutz DV-32 is one of the few American cars equipped with a four-speed transmission.
B. Barnes invents "overdrive" a device that would increase the life
of the engine, yet improve fuel efficiency.
1936 The Cord 810 introduced by Auburn Automobile Company, is a sleek modern motorcar with advanced features that include disappearing headlights, concealed door hinges, rheostat-controlled instrument lights, variable speed windshield wipers, Bendix Electric Hand (steering column-mounted electric gear pre-selection unit), and was the first automobile in this country to adopt unit body construction in its full sense (Chrysler - Airflow and Lincoln - Zepher used modified forms).
1937 Studebaker is the first American car to offer windshield washers.
1937 Cord and Duesenberg production ended when E. L. Cord shifted his focus to other interests.
President Skyway coupe premiered
1946 Crosley introduced a sedan and coupe among the first American production cars with slab-side car styling that would become the industry standard. The Crosley CoBra shaft-driven, overhead-cam engine was a first in the low-price field.
1947 Guide Lamp introduced plastic tail light lenses.
added an all-steel bodied station wagon, which predated
1949 Crosley debuted hydraulic disc brakes on all
four wheels on the full line of cars and trucks. Their famous Hotshot sports car arrived in
mid-summer. It was
1950 Studebaker ranked as one of the first independents to develop its own automatic transmission while working with Borg-Warner of Muncie, Indiana.
1951 Studebaker introduced the post World War II small block V-8 engine, preceding Chevroletís first V-8 by four years.
1957 Studebaker introduced the no-frills Scotsman series. These bottom-line cars were designed to sell at the lowest price of any standard American car line.
1958 Ralph R. Teetor (President of Perfect Circle Corporation) invents cruise control, introduced on the Chrysler Imperial, New Yorker and Windsor models.
1962 Studebaker introduced the Avanti personal luxury car. The carís interior was virtually all safety padded, and a built-in steel safety girder was concealed in the roof, surrounding the passenger compartment.
Studebaker-Packard breaks with the majors and becomes the first
1984 The Hummer is introduced by AM General of Mishawaka. Originally intended as a military personnel carrier, the Hummer is now sold as an off-road (street-legal) general-purpose four-passenger vehicle.