Timothy Moore
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On This Day: Charles Brady King Drives First Automobile in Detroit

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Ever wonder who put the motor in Motor City? In many ways, it was Charles Brad King, a mechanical engineer who will go down in history as the first person to drive an automobile in Detroit. King did so on March 6th, 1896.

King purchased a one-cylinder (yes, just the one) gasoline Sintz engine and attached it to a carriage. After attaching the engine to a pedal and muffler, he took St. Antoine Street to Woodward Avenue at breakneck speeds of up to 7 miles an hour.

Charles Brady King Drives First Automobile

Charles Brady King drives first automobile in Detroit, shows Henry Ford who’s the boss.

And the icing on the cake: following along on bicycle was King’s buddy, Henry Ford, who wouldn’t get a car out on the road for another three months. The man’s company, King Motor Cars, may not be world-renowned today, but at least he beat Ford at one thing, right?

While doing my research, I came across this quote from King which appeared in the Detroit Free Press on March 7th, 1896: “I am convinced they [horseless carriages] will in time supersede the horse.”

There you have it, folks. Charles Brad King: Automotive engineer, Ford one-upper, and a Nostradamus in the making.

  • Timothy MooreManaging Editor

    Timothy Moore hails from Dayton, Ohio, and tries to bring that Midwestern flavor to his writing. (But as it turns out, no one really likes the Midwestern flavor.) He has been covering the auto industry for years, with several national auto shows under his belt, but he’s been writing about lots of other things (like dragons and Mickey Mouse and cows drowning in milk) since he was just a tot. Outside of the land of cars, Timothy enjoys watching The Office and consuming excessive amounts of peanut butter and beer, and is on the board of an up-and-coming Dayton theatre company called The Playground. And when he’s not on stage (or three jars into a peanut butter binge), Timothy spends time with his mischievous dog, Greyson. See more articles by Timothy.