Charles H. Black of Indianapolis was a proprietor of a carriage works and blacksmith shop, and may have produced a an internal-combustion-powered vehicle prior to Elwood Haynes' successful demonstration in 1894.
Charles Black was given a ride in neighbor's Benz in 1891, which immediately sparked in interest in constructing a horseless carriage. Blacks vehicle was finished sometime between 1891 and 1894. There are many sources which state it was done in 1893, in which case it predates Haynes's work by one year.
The Black-built vehicle was similar to the Benz. It uses a buggy for its coachwork and its final drive is via two different size belts, which provide the low and high gear. Mr. Black built several experimental vehicles - two still exist - between 1891 and 1896. He produced an unknown number of production vehicles in the period 1897 through 1900, however none of these still exist. These production models were a slightly refined version of his gasoline buggy. Most carried his name while a few were called Indianapolis.
In 1900, Black sold his patents to a group of investors for $20,000 and they would produce the Black as the Indiana in 1901.
The engine for the Black was a small single-cylinder, two-stroke type powerplant capable of producing eight horsepower. Ignition was originally achieved through a hot tube heated by a kerosene torch. Black made his own carburetor, which was an upright steel tube about 6-inches in diameter and 18 inches high.
This example was driven by Black for over two decades. It was given to the Indianapolis Children's Museum in 1927 by Mr. Black's daughter. It currently resides in the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Museum.By Daniel Vaughan | Oct 2010