• May 4, 2009
Detroit steel means V8. It's inescapable. That the eight-cylinder engine is falling out of popularity only makes us more nostalgic for the daddy of American muscle. But the first V8-powered motor vehicle built in Detroit wasn't a car at all... it was a motorcycle. Well, sorta. It was the contraption you see above, the Scripps-Booth Bi-Autogo.

Built in 1913 by media scion James Scripps-Booth, the vehicle weighed a massive 3,200 lbs. It rode on 37-inch wooden wagon wheels, which were supplemented – no kidding – by training wheels that lowered out of the bodywork to stabilize the vehicle at low speeds. The aluminum-bodied whatchamacallit was steered with a wheel like a car, incorporating the first steering-wheel-mounted horn button, accompanied in the cockpit by the first folding arm-rest and flanked by the first hidden door hinges on a motor vehicle. The copper-piped V8 displaced a massive 6.3 liters, yet only produced 45 horsepower. Not bad for its day, but you shouldn't be surprised to find that only one was ever built, and it's currently on loan to the Owls Head Transportation Museum from the permanent collection of the Detroit Historical Museum, coming to you courtesy of Time magazine's 50 Worst Cars of All Time. Follow the link to peruse the rest.

[Source: Time via Boing Boing]


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  • 14 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      This V8 was the basis for the engine in the 1917 Chevrolet Series D.
      Emulsifide
      • 5 Years Ago
      Your assumptions of where the vehicle resides are inaccurate. This vehicle is currently sitting in the Petersen Automotive Museum in downtown Los Angeles and is no longer on loan to the Owls Head Transportation Museum.

      Here's a picture of it in LA (no idea what the language of the page is):

      http://autopro.channelvn.net/20090302105312189ca2231/trien-lam-nhung-xexau-nhat-lich-su.chn
      • 5 Years Ago
      I'm sorry, but this thing looks like the inspiration for the alien in "Alien".
      • 5 Years Ago
      WTF is that mass of (copper?) tubes making a j-turn down the side of the vehicle? Part of the cooling system or the exaust?
      • 5 Years Ago
      Steel... OMG.... Steel........ C'mon...... Iron Baby!!!!
      • 5 Years Ago
      Why do I think the only missing thing from this is Santa?
      • 5 Years Ago
      Do all the Whos down in Whoville drive one of these babies?
      • 5 Years Ago
      put some 4" on them wheels, oh yeah boooiiiiiiieeeeeee!
      • 5 Years Ago
      Very interesting vehicle. I wonder how much torque it had. Had to of been over 200ft lbs. Lot of forward thinking technology on it. The front suspension is interesting also.
      • 5 Years Ago
      How is this one of the 50 worst cars of all time? Seems pretty forward thinking to me.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Just look at the other selections of the 50 worst cars, the Model T was on there for pollution reasons, and that it was the "yugo of it's day".
        The first car on the list was a joke, It was never produced, so why don't we include "The Homer" from the Simpsons while we're at it!
        • 5 Years Ago
        Alex: Stop it. You're trying to be logical. That's not allowed.

        Read the rest of Time's article, if you can stand the rampant automobile-hating idiocy. The criteria for their list, insofar as I can tell, comes down to "we don't like it." It should've been called "The 50 Cars Time Magazine's Authors Hate the Most"
      • 5 Years Ago
      Oh, yes, this car is only historical because it was the first car with the evil V8, responsible for clubbing baby seals and terrorists killing our soldiers in Iraq, somehow. Honestly, how is the V8 the "beginning of an even bigger folly", as Time put it? I still think the horsepower wars would still have been around even if there never was a V8 engine. Instead the Chargers and Corvettes of the day would have been powered by massive inline-sixes, a la the Hudson Hornet. I mean, come on, how is the world worse off because of V8 engines? Do they not enjoy the characteristic burble of a V8, preferring the silent whir of electric motors in hybrids or the numerous golf carts with bodywork pretending to be cars? And the Ford Explorer is on there too? If you read it, it is only on there because it started the whole personal-use truck boom of the 90's. Which is not the fault of the vehicle, but the wagonophobic people who bought it. The Lambo LM002 isn't one of the worst cars ever built either, it is just one of the most insane. A V12 powered 4x4 that looks like a Transformer shouldn't be on there just because it is ostentatious or guzzles gas. To me it seems like a big toy that sends the driver back in time to when they are 12. The same applies to the H2. Not only does the new one have a fantastic interior, they are damn fine off-roaders. Of course, what ruins this car's reputation is that they are bought by douchebags who use them for grocery runs and likes the four-wheel-drive because it occasionally rains where they live. Frankly, it's bought as a penis enhancement. And lastly, if the Model T was "the Yugo of its day", then why do people still use the things as daily drivers? And why do you see hundereds of drivable T's for sale on eBay? How the hell did this guy get a Pulitzer? The same way Al Gore got a Nobel Peace Prize?
        • 5 Years Ago
        This vehicle is on display at The Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles, California as part of an appropriately named exhibit called "What Were They Thinking? The Misfits of Motordom." The whole exhibit is full of strange vehicles including several others featured in the Time article. For more information, go to www.petersen.org
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