1896: Ford Builds His First Car, the “Ford Quadricycle”

Elsewhere in the US….

The Ford Quadricycle was the first vehicle developed by Henry Ford. The earliest cars were hand built, one by one, and very expensive. Ford sold his first Quadricycle for $200 in 1896 to Charles Ainsley. He later built two more Quadricycles: one in 1899, and another in 1901. He eventually bought his first one back for $60. A simple frame with an ethanol-powered engine and four bicycle wheels mounted on it, this was Henry Ford’s first car.

Driven by a chain, the Quadricycle had a two cylinder engine which could produce 4 horsepower. The transmission only had two gears (first for 10 mph (16 km/h), 2nd for 20 mph (32 km/h)) and did not have a reverse gear. The tiller-steered machine had wire wheels and a 3 US gal (11 L) fuel tank under the seat. Ford test drove it on June 4, 1896, after various test drives, achieving a top speed of 20 mph (32 km/h).

The success of the little vehicle led to the founding of the Henry Ford Company and then later the Ford Motor Company in 1903. Ford would later go on to found the Ford Motor Company and become one of the world’s richest men.


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