J. Frank Duryea

Inducted 1996

Distinguished Service Citation Award 1941

Founded the Duryea Motor Wagon Company in 1896, the first company to manufacture and sell gasoline-powered vehicles in the United States

Inspired automotive innovation through their success in the first American auto races

While other automotive pioneers were still tinkering with single vehicles, the Duryea Brothers were launching an industry. Charles Duryea was a visionary, predicting “the advent of the automobile” in his 1882 college thesis. His younger brother Frank was a talented mechanic. After brief careers in the bicycle business, the brothers collaborated on the development and production of a gasoline-powered vehicle. Their 1895 Motor Wagon won the now legendary Chicago Times-Herald Race, completing the 54-mile round trip from Chicago to Evanston, Illinois with a winning time of 10 hours and 23 minutes. The car outperformed three German-made Benz models and two American electric cars. The publicity surrounding the Duryea victory inspired other mechanics and engineers to create and sell their own vehicles. In 1896, the Duryea brothers developed and produced 13 gasoline-powered vehicles that were identical in design and construction…an accomplishment regarded as the beginning of the American automobile industry.

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