1912 cartercar logo

Cartercar History

1914 cat cover 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, etc. 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 made. 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 Cartercar Catalogs)

A short chronology of the Cartercar Company:
1863 Byron Carter was born on August 17th, in Jackson County MI.
1903 Byron Carter builds his first friction drive car.
1905 The Motorcar Company is formed on September 22 in Detroit, MI.
1908 On April 6, Byron Carter died from pneumonia.
1908 The Cartercar factory moves to Pontiac, MI (during 1909 model production)
1908 The Motorcar Company changes its name to the Cartercar Company in October.
1909 Cartercars are now built with an enclosed chain casing.
1909 GM buys the Cartercar Company on October 26th.
1915 On May 22nd, Cartercar production ends.
1916 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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