Ford the “Automobileer” in 1900
One bitterly cold winter day in 1900, Henry Ford took an intrepid local reporter for a spin in the prototype of a horseless delivery wagon developed by the Detroit Automobile Company. While Ford's first attempt at manufac turing proved to be a bust, the demonstration drive did result in one of the most famous headlines in automotive history. “SWIFTER THAN A RACE-HORSE IT FLEW OVER THE ICY STREETS” blared the headline in the Sunday features sec tion of the Detroit News-Tribune on February 4, 1900. The accompanying three-column narrative told of the “Thrilling Trip on the First Detroit-Made Automobile, When Mercury Hovered About Zero.” Within, the “automo bileer” and his teeth-chattering companion correctly predicted the demise of the horse while “whizzing” down downtown streets at speeds reaching 25 miles per hour.
“She's ready,” said Ford.
“But you didn't touch a match to something or other.”
“No necessity. The ignition is by electricity. Didn't you see me touch the switch up there? …”
By and by a man opened a factory door and with incomparable swiftness the machine picked up its speed and glided into the snowy, wind-blown street.