Charles B. King, on March 6, 1896, becomes the first person to design, build and drive a car on the streets of old Detroit.
King was born in California and was the son of a Civil War Union Army general.
He received training in mechanical engineering from Cornell University and moved to Detroit in 1889 at the age of 21, bursting with ideas and inventions.
King decided to build a horseless carriage after visiting the 1893 Chicago Exposition and witnessing Gottlieb Daimler’s self-propelled carriage.
King used money from one of his award-winning patented inventions at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair to help design and produce the first block-type inline four-cylinder engine. The motor weighed 130 pounds, and the primary layout is still used today.
On March 6, 1896, ten years after Carl Benz patented the first gasoline automobile in Germany, and three years after the Duryea Brothers’ first vehicle debuted in the U.S., King became the first driver of a gasoline automobile in Detroit.