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Car Talk: Automobile Records and Firsts

July 30, 2015

This article was first published in Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader History’s Lists.

First Police Car

Officer Louis Mueller Sr. operated the first police car in Akron, Ohio, in 1899, when he was assigned to pick up an intoxicated man. Run by electricity, the vehicle could reach a speed of only 16 miles per hour and travel 30 miles before needing to recharge its battery. The car cost $2,400 and was equipped with electric lights, a stretcher, and gongs for a siren.

First Police CarFirst Land-Speed Record

French race-car driver Count Gaston de Chasseloup-Laubat (better known as the “Electric Count”) set the world’s first land-speed record when he raced his electric car down a deserted road near Paris, France, in 1898…at the “incredible” speed of 39.24 mph. The count was not satisfied with his feat, though, so tried again in January 1899, screeching down the road and breaking his own record with a new speed of 43.64 mph.

First Solar-Powered Car

When William G. Cobb of General Motors showcased the first solar car at the Chicago Powerama convention in 1955, there was one small problem—at only 15 inches, it was too small to drive. Seventeen years later, the International Rectifier Company unveiled something a little more realistic: a 1912 Baker electric car converted to run on solar power.

First Solar CarFirst Gas Pump

On September 5, 1885, Sylvanus Bowser of Fort Wayne, Indiana, delivered the first gasoline pump to a local gas station. Bowser had manufactured a pump tank that held one barrel of gasoline. Thirteen years later, pumps were manufactured that could draw fuel from an underground tank.

First Sanctioned Drag Race

On April 10, 1949, California street racers and hot-rodders gathered in the town of Goleta, north of Santa Barbara. Their race would take place on an airstrip that the military used to train pilots. Complete with a flagman at the starting line and another at the finish a quarter-mile away, the fastest local roadsters showed up to race each other sideby- side. Thousands of spectators also came and watched the 10- second race.

Uncle John's Bathroom Reader History's ListsFirst published in Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader History’s Lists.

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