1898 Riker Electric

1898 Riker Electric Buggy

When electric cars first took to American roads over a century ago many homes were still lit by gas lamps and the 'exhaust' of domestic animals was an impediment to convenient and dignified travel.

The duty of the first electric cars was local transport. Not much different than the tasks of horses. Very early in the 20th-century American industrial legend Thomas Edison and brilliant mathematician and electrical engineer Charles Steinmetz both drove electric cars.

A lack of any sort of road system kept most cars in town. In those days even heavy battery-powered cars were an effective mode of local transport. They were silent servants in an agrarian age when the bark of the internal combustion engine was often a social nuisance and a bane to livestock.

The invention of the self-starter for the internal combustion engine meant hand cranking was no longer necessary. This spelled the beginning of the end of the electric automobile.

This very early electric vehicle was designed and built by Andrew Riker in 1898 for his own personal use. He first used this car for racing, winning many of the earliest sanctioned auto races in the United States, including the first New York Racing Association Race at Newport, Rhode Island, and the first-ever U.S. 50-mile race, held at Long Island, New York, in 1900. The car also showed well; it placed first at the 1898 Motor Carriage Exhibition at the Mechanics Fair in Boston and at the 1900 Paris Exposition Universelle in France. After using it for competition, Riker used it as his daily transportation before giving it to his wife, Edith. After selling the Riker Electric company to Colonel Albert Pope, Riker donated this car, along with six different Rikers, to Henry Ford for his museum. Many years later, in 1984, it was sold back to Andrew's daughter-in-law Eleanor, who kept it until her passing in 1998. It is still in the same original and unrestored condition as it was when it left The Henry Ford museum, including Riker's original leather license plate that allowed him to drive the car around Central Park in New York City in 1898. Recently rewired to make it drivable, this is truly an unmatched piece of American automotive history.

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(Data based on Model Year 1898 sales)

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1898 Riker Electric Stanhope16082019 Worldwide Auctioneers : Pacific Grove Auction   

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