Thursday, September 8, 2011

Origins of the Autoette

While researching my upcoming book on the history of California's micro-electric cars, I've conducted interviews and done extensive research into the origins of the cars and the industry. The beginnings of the business can be traced to the WWI era and the handicapped or infirmed veterans who were coming home. A number of makers of "invalid cars" began to pop up in England and in Europe, as well as here in the United States. One of the more notable and successful was the Custer Specialty Company of Dayton, Ohio.


Levitt Lucern Custer was an inventor and entrepreneur who had come of age as a contemporary of the Wright Brothers. Custer had worked with the Wrights and was an accomplished balloonist and aviator in his own right. World War I brought him the opportunity to create a mobility solution for the wounded soldiers returning from the front and for the elderly, promising independence and mobility. His answer was the three-wheeled Custer Car that promised "Miles of Smiles for a Penny." The Custer Specialty Company offered cars with first with electric power, and later optional gasoline power. Here are two beautiful examples, one gasoline and the other electric.


In my research I have been able to confirm that the creator of the Autoette was inspired to develop his own design in part due to his dissatisfaction with the complex workings and limitations of the Custer Car, which by the 1930s was the primary vehicle of its type in the United States. Here is a photo of the restored control switches on my Custer Car.


In chasing the origins of the Custer Car I ended up acquiring this one for the collection. The car sat in a collection for several decades with damage to the electrical system until its owner passed away. Then a friend of the collector acquired the car and it sat for another dozen years until that fellow passed away. I acquired the car just a few months ago. Just this past Labor Day weekend, I completed the restoration of the electrical controls and the rewiring of the car. In addition, I was able to take care of some mechanical issues and by Sunday evening take the car for a test drive. Here's a video of the Custer on the road again after many years sitting idle.

More to come soon on the origins of California's micro-electric cars! Thanks for reading.

7 comments:

  1. Hi Just got a "new" (used) 1950's autoette. Have all parts except soft upholstery and a tail light lens. ready to restore. Hope to fine another owner that will share details and resto recommendations. Plan to make it as stock as possible

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi Craig,

    Congratulations on your new Autoette! I'll be happy to help you with your project. Have you determined the actual year and model of your car and which options, if any it came with? If not I can help with that as it us a good place to start. If you have any photos or the serial number that would be great.

    I look forward to discovering more about the car.

    Best,

    Larry Fisher, author
    The Autoette Project
    Lfisher160@cox.net

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Larry please call me about my autoette truck 5411-490-3044

      Delete
  3. Hi Craig,

    I need two of these. Any idea where I can buy them?

    Dennis

    ReplyDelete
  4. Dennis,

    Please contact me offline at lfisher160@cox.net and I will help you regarding Autoettes.

    Larry

    ReplyDelete
  5. Just came across the electric version of this chair. What is the value (non-restored but great shape)?

    ReplyDelete
  6. INTERNATIONAL CONCEPT OF WORK FROM HOME
    Work from home theory is fast gaining popularity because of the freedom and flexibility that comes with it. Since one is not bound by fixed working hours, they can schedule their work at the time when they feel most productive and convenient to them. Women & Men benefit a lot from this concept of work since they can balance their home and work perfectly. People mostly find that in this situation, their productivity is higher and stress levels lower. Those who like isolation and a tranquil work environment also tend to prefer this way of working. Today, with the kind of communication networks available, millions of people worldwide are considering this option.

    Women & Men who want to be independent but cannot afford to leave their responsibilities at home aside will benefit a lot from this concept of work. It makes it easier to maintain a healthy balance between home and work. The family doesn't get neglected and you can get your work done too. You can thus effectively juggle home responsibilities with your career. Working from home is definitely a viable option but it also needs a lot of hard work and discipline. You have to make a time schedule for yourself and stick to it. There will be a time frame of course for any job you take up and you have to fulfill that project within that time frame.

    There are many things that can be done working from home. A few of them is listed below that will give you a general idea about the benefits of this concept.

    Baby-sitting
    This is the most common and highly preferred job that Women & Men like doing. Since in today's competitive world both the parents have to work they need a secure place to leave behind their children who will take care of them and parents can also relax without being worried all the time. In this job you don't require any degree or qualifications. You only have to know how to take care of children. Parents are happy to pay handsome salary and you can also earn a lot without putting too much of an effort.

    Nursery
    For those who have a garden or an open space at your disposal and are also interested in gardening can go for this method of earning money. If given proper time and efforts nursery business can flourish very well and you will earn handsomely. But just as all jobs establishing it will be a bit difficult but the end results are outstanding.

    Freelance
    Freelance can be in different wings. Either you can be a freelance reporter or a freelance photographer. You can also do designing or be in the advertising field doing project on your own. Being independent and working independently will depend on your field of work and the availability of its worth in the market. If you like doing jewellery designing you can do that at home totally independently. You can also work on freelancing as a marketing executive working from home. Wanna know more, email us on workfromhome.otr214423@gmail.com and we will send you information on how you can actually work as a marketing freelancer.


    Internet related work
    This is a very vast field and here sky is the limit. All you need is a computer and Internet facility. Whatever field you are into work at home is perfect match in the software field. You can match your time according to your convenience and complete whatever projects you get. To learn more about how to work from home, contact us today on workfromhome.otr214423@gmail.comand our team will get you started on some excellent work from home projects.


    Diet food
    Since now a days Women & Men are more conscious of the food that they eat hence they prefer to have homemade low cal food and if you can start supplying low cal food to various offices then it will be a very good source of income and not too much of efforts. You can hire a few ladies who will help you out and this can be a good business.

    Thus think over this concept and go ahead.

    ReplyDelete