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.