Early Landmarks in automotive engineering

Audrain Automobile Museum, Newport, Rhode Island, USA

10 December 2022 – 5 March 2023

The early years of the automobile in the late 19th century were an incredibly productive period. Hundreds of workshops and manufacturers developing their totally new ideas to improve this nascent mode of transport. The Audrain Automobile Museum illustrates in this exhibition the incredible pace of experimentation and progression of technology through highlights from its collections. The Benz Patent Motorwagen of 1886 (a replica here) was the 1st horseless car, and will give birth to the automobile industry.

During the first decade of the 20th century, ideas abounded and each milestone represented an important moment in technological progress, until the arrival of the modern cars in the late 1940s. Steam engines – Crouch Steam Runabout of 1899, electric – Rauch & Lang Electric Roadster of 1912 – or thermal – Oldsmobile Curved Dash 1904 – oppose each other before the internal combustion engine imposes itself for a good hundred years.

The Ford Model T begins mass production. And in the 1930s, automobiles became a brand of power, reliability and luxury. Duesenberg Model J or Cord L29 Phaeton in 1930, Marmon Sixteen LeBaron Coupé from 1932, Bugatti Type 57 Coupé Ventoux (1936) or Alfa Romeo 6C 2500 Sport Touring Coupé from 1939 embody this quest for power and performance, in different styles between American luxury and European grand touring. Some motorcycles such as the Pierce “Four” of 1910, the Brough Superior SS100 Alpine Grand Sport of 1929 or the Indian Model 436 4 Cylinders of 1936 make the parallel with the automobile in this exhibition.