1896 Ford Quadricycle

When Henry Ford built his first gasoline powered automobile, he made it as simple as he could, and utilized commonly available materials. It was given the name 'Quadricycle' and had a frame made from angle iron, and a seat from a buggy. The transmission was a combination of leather belt and chain drive. The two-cylinder engine was based on a design Ford found in the January 9, 1896 issue of American Machinist magazine. The unit was originally air-cooled, but it ran too hot and Ford had to add water jackets to the cylinders.

The Quadricycle was an evolution, going through three stages of development and modifications. As first built, most of the car's frame was wood. The name 'Quadricycle' was appropriate, as all four wheels were bicycle wheels. The Quadricycle was sold in 1896 for the sum of $200. In 1904 he bought the vehicle back for $65. Shortly thereafter, he replaced the wooden water tanks with a copper one mounted under the seat. Currently, this is the form the Quadricycle is in today.

The Quadricycle was built by Henry Ford, with assistance from friends Jim Bishop, George Cato, Edward (Spider) Huff, and David Bell.

This example is a replica made by George DeAngelis, a Ford employee, in 1963.
Henry Ford worked at the Edison Illuminating Company in Detroit, Michigan where he served as Edison's Chief Engineer. While there, Ford began building his first car. The cylinders for the engine were sourced from a length of scrap pipe from a steam engine that was cut in half and bored out the correct diameter. An Old Lathe provided the flywheel and the wheels and seat were sourced from bicycles. In the front was a horn that came from a domestic doorbell.

Ford completed his car in June of 1896 and when he tried to get it out of his workshop, he found that the door was too narrow. Using an ax, he demolished the frame and removed some bricks which allowed him to free the vehicle onto the street.

A few months later, Ford sold his Quadricycle for $200. Only one example was ever built.
By Daniel Vaughan | Dec 2016
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