On a recent trip to the Ford Museum in Detroit, we were surprised to discover that Clara Ford preferred an electric car in 1914–and it wasn’t a Ford!
Apparently, Clara Ford drove a Detroit Electric Model 47 well into the 1930s.
Yes, there were electric cars over 100 years ago.
Companies especially advertised them to women (and physicians according to wikipedia) because comparable gas engines required manual cranking and were loud and dirty while the electric vehicles were easy to start and quiet.
The photo of the Model 47 is worth a closer look because it reveals some fun and important auto history.
First, the body design reveals close association to a horse carriage. It’s more vertical. You step up into the carriage. And the lights are more like lanterns.
Second, there is no steering wheel! Instead, it is steered with a lever.
This becomes a bit more understandable when we remember that the design elements were mostly drawn from horse carriages, which of course had no steering wheels but often had a levered brake. So it was an open question for many early models: how are we going to steer this thing?
If you ever find yourself in Detroit, we’d recommend a visit to the museum.
Note, it brought joy to my historian heart to know that Henry Ford, who said that “History is more or less bunk,” still found a way to preserve his legacy with an enormous museum! 🙂
Let us know if we can help with your car insurance!