It Was A Hell Of A Speech, Mr. President, But…

I left D.C. and my job as a Congressional staff member fifteen years ago. I don’t write about politics, but I do appreciate great political writing. President Obama’s was one hell of a speech. You’d have to be the most bitter hater of Americans or American Democrats to think otherwise.

But…

The staff here at Sam Barer’s Four Wheel Drift would like to correct our President (and his writers). The President made reference to America as “the country that invented the automobile”.

Sorry, Mr. President, it wasn’t the United States of America!!! You must have been watching too much Schoolhouse Rock “Mother Necessity” (which claims Henry Ford invented the car.)

While Frenchman Nicholas Cugnot’s steam car in 1769 is believed to be the first self-propelled vehicle, usually Germany’s Karl Benz and Gottleib Daimler are considered the “inventors of the automobile” back in 1885. France’s De Dion-Bouton also beat Americans to the punch.

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3 Responses to It Was A Hell Of A Speech, Mr. President, But…

  1. Y’ know, the Oldsmobile people might be able to put up a fight–Ol’ Ransom Eli had a running vehicle in ’83.

  2. In the right corner (of the US) wearing red, white and blue trunks, the quick, powerful veteran writer with Hemmings- David Traver Adolphus. In the left corner (of the US) wearing …oh my god, he’s not wearing any trunks…

    David makes a great point about Ransom Olds and shows how tricky the history is. Many of my sources (including the popular 1976 Brazendale/Aceti book “Classic Car”) point to Olds only working on existing steam carriages in 1883 in his father’s workshop. At some point he built two of his own steam-powered cars in ’83 and ’84. The basis of Olds’ first two vehicles was the technology of the 1769 Cugnot Carriage…itself based on Papin’s 1698 single-cylinder steam engine attached to his carriage. Then again the steam-powered engine traces back to Newton.

    One thing is for certain — in any automotive technology it is very hard to get a definitive “first” about which nobody will argue. Although good conversations help to establish more information with which enthusiasts can make their own assessments.

  3. Well, at least he didn’t say HE invented it. Or the internet.

    There’s a published account of the young Ransom driving a steam vehicle in ’83, but you’re right, it’s a continuum.

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