Abner Doble

Inducted 1972

Developed the Doble Steam Automobile, a state-of-the-art engineering masterpiece

Built 125 sophisticated steam-powered cars between 1915 and 1925

Abner Doble learned the unfortunate lesson that you can do everything right and still not succeed. Early automobile manufacturers had to decide on the source of energy to power the automobile: steam, electric or gasoline. Against the prevailing and growing dominance of the gasoline engine, Abner Doble gambled on steam. Doble built his first steam car while still in high school. He left the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to pursue his dream of building the finest steam car in the world. By 1918 he had built 80 steam cars in Detroit. In 1920, Doble and his brothers, all engineers, moved their steam car business to Emeryville, California, where they built 42 additional cars before being forced out of business because of changing consumer demands in America. Although history has proven that Doble made the wrong choice, his steam-powered cars were engineering marvels of the day. The 1924 model Doble steam car, which could run for 1,500 miles on a 24-gallon tank, had a flash boiler the could produce a working head of steam in one minute. It was a luxury car that film stars and royalty were proud to own. When the gasoline powered car finally triumphed, Doble traveled the world as a steam power consultant.

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Class of 1972

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