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Henry Ford with the 1896 Quadracycle and the 10 millionth Ford vehicle the Model T

Ford History

June 4 1896 Ford's Quadricycle
At approximately 1:30 a.m., Henry Ford test-drove his Quadricycle, the first automobile he ever designed or drove. Ford was working at the Edison Illuminating Company in Detroit at the time that he began building the Quadricycle. He had reportedly seen an article on the gasoline engine in American Machinist while in the company of friend and fellow engineer, Charles King. In King's recollection Ford claimed, "I want to build one of these." Ford employed the help of his friends in the Detroit engineering community to build an internal combustion engine on his kitchen table. It's important to note to what extent Ford was a visionary and an organizer. He was an engineer, of course, but he didn't by any means accomplish his engineering feats alone.

Men like King, along with a whole slew of other engineers, volunteered their time to Ford's projects. King provided Ford with a whole crew of workers who worked in the makeshift machine shop Ford had constructed in his garage behind his Bagley Avenue residence in Detroit. 

Ford even convinced his neighbor, Felix Julian, to donate his half of the shed to the cause. King was building his own vehicle at the time, and actually preempted Ford in testing the horseless carriage in March of 1896. Ford followed King's carriage's test run on his bicycle. Ford did make one major innovation in building his first vehicle: he decided not to attach an engine to an existing carriage, but rather to construct a four-wheel body based on the principles of bicycle manufacturing. Ford completed his "Quadricycle" early in the morning on this day in 1896.

Henry and Clara Ford in 1946
on the 50th anniversary of the Quadricycle

He couldn't wait to test the invention. Only one of his associates, Jim Bishop, was present at the time of the vehicle's completion. In all of his enthusiasm in getting the car together, Ford failed to consider that his contraption was wider than the doors of the shed in which he built it. He and Bishop set upon the door and adjacent walls with axes in order to hack an entrance sufficient for the Quadricycle. The 500-pound, two-cylinder vehicle came to life in the alley behind Ford's house. Ford drove it down Bagley Avenue to Grand River Avenue, to Washington Boulevard, when the Quadricycle stopped. Bishop and Ford pushed the automobile to the Edison plant, where they replaced a nut and spring that had come loose. The next month, Henry drove his vehicle to his father's farm to show it off. His father apparently walked around it cautiously. Later he expressed his doubts to one of his neighbors: "John and William (Henry's brothers) are all right, but Henry worries me. He doesn't seem to settle down, and I don't know what's going to become of him." Maybe he'll become the most powerful citizen in the country!

1893 Ford's First Engine - Henry Ford completed his first successful gasoline engine. He and his wife tested the engine in their kitchen on Christmas Eve. Ford's first automobile took its inaugural drive on June 4, 1896

(above) 1896 Quadracycle And 15 Millionth Ford Vehicle
Henry and Edsel Ford with the 1896 Quadracycle and the 15 millionth Ford vehicle.

(below) William Clay Ford With First Ford Car

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