1916 Owen Magnetic
The Owen Magnetic is one of the most unusual cars of all time. Although it has a Buda six cylinder engine up front, this engine is not connected to the wheels. Rather the engine drives a generator whose output is fed to an electric motor in the rear axle. By means of a switching system, various generator output taps are connected to the various motor leads as power and speed are adjusted to meet the needs of the car. Consequently there is no need for gear shifts and clutches. The two items which women found frustrating were the necessity to crank the car to start it, and the annoyance of gear-shifting at a time long before synchromesh transmissions. The car was one of the most expensive in America, $6,000 at a time when a Ford could be purchased for $350. Consequently, although the system worked, it did not survive past 1920 even though such luminaries as Enrico Caruso and John McCormick were owners.