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The Pennington Automobile & The Racine Motor Co.

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The Racine Motor Co.
Racine, Wisconsin

One of the first and most colorful of all the American Automobile's shady frontiersmen was Edward Joel Pennington. Pennington dash across the scene during the first formative years of the Automobile industry.

In the course of his adventurous life time Pennington operated in a dozen states and on two continents, took several million dollars from gullible investors and received 27 U. S. patents.

Pennington was born in 1858 in Franklin Township, Ripley County, Indiana. At the age of 13 he worked as an apprentice for J. A. Fay Co. makers of woodworking machinery in Cincinnati, Ohio. His first patent was received in 1881 for a "reciprocating cylinder head for planning machines". Over the next few year Pennington reportly swindled millions of dollars from investors in Ohio, Indiana, New York and Illinois. In 1891 he exhibited an airship (small model) in Chicago and planned a 150 MPH electric railroad company all with the intentions of attracting more investors.

1893 Pennington Motor Powered Bicycle
1893 Pennington Motor Powered Bicycle

From Chicago in 1893 Pennington applied for the first of his many patents on Motor Vehicles. Two Motor Powered Bicycles patents were assigned to The Motor Cycle Company of Cleveland, Ohio. One of them is shown above and featured impenetrable pneumatic balloon tires (that would go flat) and a rear engine that overheated and seized up after running a short distance. The other motorcycle Pennington claimed sailed through the air for 65 feet at a speed of 57 MPH.

Kane-Pennington Engine
Kane-Pennington Engine

In 1894 Thomas Kane of Racine, Wisconsin put up money to develop an American Automobile with Pennington. Pennington moved to Racine where he had experimental and manufacturing facilities he never had before. From Racine Pennington and Kane designed the Kane-Pennington engine. This engine included a fuel metering device instead of a carburetor that could run on kerosene, an unusual spark device and a steel tube cylinder without water jacketing. This Kane-Pennington engine without any form of cooling over heated also.

1995 Pennington Quadricycle
1995 Pennington Quadricycle

From the motorcycles evolved the first "Victoria", a primitive quadricycle made up of two ladies bicycles joined together by a central platform which housed the working parts. By now Pennington was beginning to get into trouble with U. S. investors so he moved his operations to England. In 1896 he established The Great Horseless Carriage Co. Ltd in Coventy, England.

1895 Pennington Advertisement
1895 Pennington Advertisement

The year 1895 was a significant one in automobile history in the United States. It marked the granting of American patents to Duryea and Selden. It saw the launching of the first of the automobile trade publication and America's first automobile race.

Sharing the distinction with Duryea of having the first trade journal advertisement was the Racine Motor Vehicle Company. Pennington took a full page ad in Volume 1, Number 1 of the Horseless Age and pictured his 4 horsepower Victoria in 1895.

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