1877 Selden Patent Wagon

Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS

The first ever gasoline-propelled road wagon, this 1877 Selden first came to light during patent litigation, where adversaries claimed it would never run.

Patent Attorney George Selden applied for his engine patent in 1879, but never made the car, instead demanding royalties from all car makers. Henry Ford refused to pay and was sued in the 1890’s. Because of that, Selden made the one and only model of his car.

Starting with a stove-iron block with one cylinder, boring two more, George B Selden then mounted it on the finished axle of a specifically built spring wagon. Thus, the Selden was born.

Selden won the battle but lost the war. The court declared that the Selden patent was valid but that Ford was using a different design.

The original is now held at the Henry Ford Museum. A William Eggers hand-crafted replica has been completed!