Two Hearts That Beat As One . . . The Carter Two-Engine Car

I was looking through a 1907 newspaper the other day and I saw this crazy thing:

As you can see, it is the power plant of the Carter TWO-ENGINE Car.  That’s right, the car had two four-cylinder engines.  Each engine possessed half the rated horsepower and had its own ignition, carburetor, lubrication, radiator and clutch.  The engines could be used together or one at a time.  There was an additional foot pedal for the second motor which was placed next to the first so that both could be engaged or disengaged with one foot movement.  Each engine was held in place by four bolts, so that if it needed to be repaired it could be removed and the car would still run by using only the remaining engine.

The design was patented in 1907, and you can see the full application here.

The car was manufactured by the Carter Motor Car Corporation, named for Howard O. Carter (no relation to the CarterCar) and they advertised it with slogans like “Two hearts that beat as one” and “Two heads are better than one.”




In marketing the automobile, Howard O. Carter emphasized the dangers of being stranded by a car with engine trouble.  I found a newspaper story from April of 1907 that may help to explain his strong feelings on the subject. Apparently, Carter stopped to help a stranded motorist near Detroit and was hit in the face when the engine crank kicked back.  The left side of his head was crushed and part of his cheekbone had to be extracted, all accompanied by considerable blood loss.

Carter recovered, but his company was on life support.  The design never caught on with the public and only lasted a couple of years.  I’m not sure what happened to him after that, although it does look like he dabbled in airplane manufacturing.  I found some stories about a 1916 Transcontinental Aeroplane Competiton in which Howard O. Carter and Carter Brothers Aeroplane Co. had entered two triplanes that, of course, sported two engines each.


All I Want For Christmas . . . Is a 1936 Ford

In December of 1935, Henry Ford was urging people to give their families a new Ford V-8 for Christmas.  Can you imagine finding a ’36 Ford with a big red bow on the driveway Christmas morning?

They called it “The Greatest Ford That Ford Ever Built,” an automobile with everything you could wish for including beauty, safety, comfort, V-8 smoothness, speed, power, dependability and economy of operation.

It was a gorgeous car with fat fenders and a distinctive, 1936-only grille with vertical bars:


The V-8 engine had 221-cubic inches and 85 horsepower.  Ford advertised that no breaking in was required, claiming you could drive it 60 miles an hour the day you bought it, and, after the first 100 miles, “as fast as you desire.”


Ford also described it as “the car that does all things easily, ” meaning that  It drove easily because it had speed, power and acceleration and responded to your touch “like a well-trained horse”.  It was also easy on the pocketbook with prices starting at $510.


A ’36 Ford is getting harder to find, not to mention afford, but it would still make a terrific Christmas present (if you really, really love someone).


Merry Christmas!


Linco Gasoline Christmas Ad

This  vintage Christmas Ad was published in 1934, and it just exudes that 1930s vibe:

The Ohio Oil Company was started in 1887 as an independent company but soon became a subsidiary of Standard Oil.  The Supreme Court ordered the break up of the Standard Oil monopoly in 1911, and Ohio Oil  became independent once again.  In order to diversify and get into the business of selling gas, Ohio bought Lincoln Oil Refinery in 1924.  This purchase included 17 stations selling Linco gasoline.  Ohio acquired the Marathon gas brand when it purchased Transcontinental in 1930, and “Linco” was eventually replaced by the popular Marathon brand.

Linco existed during an era when service stations focused on the “service” part, including cleaning windshields and headlights, checking oil and tires and even providing free road maps:


Linco also spent a substantial portion of their advertising budget talking about their fabulous and clean rest rooms:

If only the gas stations of today made that a priority!


1935 Pierce-Arrow

Erroneous “Experts”

If you can stand to listen to the news lately, you hear one instance after another of the “experts” getting things hilariously, and sometimes tragically, wrong.  This is not a new phenomenon, and one good example from the early years of the automobile industry involves the “saturation point,” or that point when more automobiles are built than can be consumed.  Believe it or not, the doomsayers were active from almost the inception of the American automobile industry.

In 1917, one expert lecturing at the New York Auto Show opined that there were 7.5 million Americans who needed cars.  He had calculated this number based in part on the number of farmers (3.5 million farms of 100 or more acres) but stipulated that some of these farms did not produce enough “to warrant the owner to invest in a motor car.”

A short time later, in the mid-1920s, car registrations had blown past that 7.5 million number and actually exceeded 20 million, but the bad predictions continued.  From the St. Louis Post:

“Allowing the modest estimate of five years as the total life of a car, though, on  rebuilt basis, cars today are probably in commission an average of ten years, and then let the 20 percent increase in new cars continue each year, we get the astounding new car production of 32,107,794 by 1929.

The estimated population of the United States has increased, roughly, 10 percent in the last five years, or is today 113,493,720. If this rate of increase in population keeps up, which it may not do, due to restricted immigration, then every fourth person in the United States would have to be the owner of a new car to absorb car production.”

The papers were full of references to the saturation point during this time period with other groups estimating that point to be around 40 million cars and that it would be reached in 1936.

Well, by 1951 there were nearly 50 million registrations with no saturation point in sight as families were purchasing multiple cars per household.  All of the hand-wringing regarding saturation levels proved to be unfounded, but of course the hand-wringers are never held accountable. The editors at the Meriden Daily Journal were on to their game in 1926, however, and the first paragraph of their editorial on the subject pulls no punches:

“Every little while some apostle of gloom will raise his voice in a warning that automobile stocks will soon glut the market and that people who buy automobiles or purchase stock in the companies are foolish, because the saturation point is reached. Some of these professional pessimists have been talking this for five years and each year their voices are louder and pitched a bit higher and they try to tell us that we are making a serious mistake in not paying attention to them.  The only people that do pay attention are those who let others do their thinking for them and who are always ready to accept any gloomy prophecy.”

Sound familiar?

On a lighter note, with choices like this, who could blame those families of the 1950s for wanting multiple cars?

1955 Buick at the Classic Car Collection in Kearney, Nebraska.
1955 Chevrolet
1957 Oldsmobile
1955 Ford Customline


“Automobile Saturation Point.” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 24 April 1926, p. 12.
“Auto Saturation Point Far Ahead.” Tulsa Daily World, 4 February 1917, p. 11.
“Automobile Saturation Point Is Placed at 40,000,000.” St. Petersburg Times, 6 June 1926, p. 8.
“Auto Saturation Likely in 1936.”  Woodward Daily Press,  14 July 1927, p. 1.
“Locus of Automobile Saturation Point Is Still Vanishing.” The Fort Collins Sunday Express-Courier, 13 November 1927, p.1.
“The Automobile Saturation Point.” The Meriden Daily Journal, 12 May 1926, p. 10.