In 1901, Mr. Byron J. Carter, then of Jackson, Michigan, realizing
the shortcomings of geared transmissions as used in automobiles,
began experiments upon improvements, being naturally attracted to
the friction system because of its manifest advantages.
His researches revealed the fact that no reliable data was
available upon which to base calculations of efficiency, capacity,
It was first necessary to determine the materials, which in
combination, developed the highest coefficient of friction, and
possessing the necessary strength and wearing qualities. Aluminum
suggested itself as combining the qualities desired and was
adopted for the friction disk. Various alloys of aluminum were
tried and finally one decided upon which was exactly suited to the
purpose. This first known use of aluminum for the purpose should
be noted, as imitators have appeared and claims of originality are
During the period covering Mr. Carter's experiments, many friction
transmissions were developed by other inventors and the failure of
one after another, instead of discouraging, only served to
increase his persistency, and after months of careful research,
the first Carter friction-driven automobile appeared. This was in
the summer of 1903. This automobile was of the runabout type and
in addition to the radical improvement in transmission parts, was
a well designed and constructed little car. It was used by Mr.
Carter about two years, then sold to Mr. Ralph H. Miller, of Ann
Arbor, Mich., who used it with satisfaction until we purchased it
from him recently to be preserved for exhibition purposes.
The car has been run more than 25,000 miles and is now, without
repairs, apparently in condition for much additional service.
The distinguishing features of the "CARTERCAR" are patented, and
addtional patents upon recent improvements are pending.
In view of the foregoing, we claim to have constructed the first
succesful friction driven automobile, and the advantages of our
long experience must be apparent.
(This text is found in various
A short chronology of the Cartercar Company:
Byron Carter was born on August 17th, in Jackson County MI.
Byron Carter builds his first friction drive car.
The Motorcar Company is formed on September 22 in Detroit, MI.
On April 6, Byron Carter died from
The Cartercar factory moves to Pontiac, MI (during 1909 model
The Motorcar Company changes its name to the Cartercar Company in
Cartercars are now built with an enclosed chain casing.
GM buys the Cartercar Company on October 26th.
On May 22nd, Cartercar production ends.
GM votes to dissolve the Cartercar Company.
This site is a work-in-progress to document Cartercar history and production. It will be improved as time and information permit.
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