Arguably the first American car was built by Oliver Evans in 1805.
He had received the first U. S. patent in 1789. The car that Evans
built was amphibious and could travel on land by wheels or water
Other scholars say that the first American car is generally considered
to be the Duryea automobile built by the Duryea Motor Wagon Company
which was first demonstrated in Massachusetts in 1893 (pictured
above). Frank and Charles Duryea founded the company and built
a Ladies Phaeton one-cylinder gasoline engine, 4-wheel, open air
A second Duryea was built in 1894 and on Thanksgiving Day in 1895,
Frank won the Chicago Times Herald Race traveling 54 miles with
an average speed of 7.5 mph. In 1895, the Duryea Motor Wagon Company
started commercial production of the first American car.
Frank Duryea was the actual builder of the first American automobile,
having to throw away many of Charles' ideas. Charles, however, spent
his life trying to discredit Frank and claim himself to be the builder
of the first American car.
By 1902, the Oldsmobile (Olds Motor Vehicle Company formed in
1897 in Detroit, Michigan) would come to dominate the marketplace
with its large scale production line busy at work churning out
425 cars the first year for $650 apiece.
The Henry Ford Company launched in 1901 and would change its
name to Cadillac Motor Company. In 1909 General Motors would buy
the Cadillac company. William Durant had formed General Motors
in 1908. In 1902 - 1903 the Ford Motor Company launched in a converted
factory and built its first American car, the Model A.
In 1908, the Ford Motor Company launched the Model T and in first
year production sold over 10,000 cars. In 1912, the Charles Kettering
electric starter was introduced (before that cars had to startup
using a hand crank).
In 1913, the Ford Motor Company developed the assembly line with
each worker responsible for one task. Up until this time, workers
were assigned multiple tasks on building automobiles and walked
around the plants to accomplish their tasks.
Under this assembly line process, the Highland Park, Michigan
plant produced 300,000 cars in 1914. This allowed Ford to drop
the price of the Model T for 14 years straight making this American
car now affordable to the middle class.
Many years ago, in children's schoolbooks, Henry Ford was given
credit for inventing the automobile. This was far from the truth.
What Henry Ford did invent was the assembly line for mass producing
the automobile making it affordable to Americans everywhere.