Monday, February 3, 2014

What Was The First V8 Built For Production In Detroit?

The 1913 BiAutogo was the brainchild of an artist by nature, and auto designer by trade.

James Scripps Booth was a talented illustrator (his drawings accompanied many of the advertisements of the cars he designed for other companies) and in 1908, he doodled out a whopper of a machine.


 It's a wild concept, with practicality on the opposite end of the design spectrum from sheer imagination.


 Compare this (basically) two-wheeled monster with the Chrysler Tomahawk concept 90 years later...

Or the "Batcycle" from the Dark Knight movies...


If there's one thing that we, as Americans, or as gearheads appreciate, it's excess. Bigger, louder, faster. And as you can see, Scripps was an early pioneer in this.

But along with "mo size comes mo problems", in this case, an engine and balance point so out of whack that steering was like turning the Queen Mary Liner around in a wet ditch. It was ponderous, and unwieldy, and dangerous. Those aren't actually negatives in the motorcycle-hybrid universe nowadays, but back then, without the support of viral marketing and rugged male models tearing up the asphalt in a picturesque video shoot, the idea couldn't get lift and crashed to the ground.

It was one-and-done.

But it was, indeed, the first V8 powered vehicle built in the city of Detroit.

This sole example resides in the Owls Head Transportation Museum in Owls Head, Maine.

And so it becomes a trivia-question answer. But if I ever laid hands on it, I'd take it out, feel that fat V8 vibrate under my hands, and head for the nearest ten-mile stretch of smooth highway, with no sharp corners.


Here's to USA excess!

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