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Hemmings Motor News has been around since 1954. We're proud of our heritage, but we're also more than the Hemmings full of classifieds that your father subscribed to. Aside from new editorial content every month in Hemmings, we have three monthly magazines: Hemmings Muscle Machines, Hemmings Classic Car and Hemmings Sports and Exotic Car.

While our editors traverse the country to find the best content for those magazines, we find other oddities related to the old-car hobby that we really had no place for - until now. With this blog, we're giving you a behind-the-scenes look at what we see and what we do during the course of putting out some of the finest automotive magazines you'll ever read.

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Custer Cars: Early Electric Vehicles

Posted August 20, 2008 12:01 AM by dstrohl

The Custer car was an early alternative fuel car - and you can see from the pictures that it looked as if it came from Munchkin Land. Custer Specialty Car Company began producing electric cars and wheelchairs in Dayton, Ohio, in 1920. The founder, L. Luzern Custer, was an invalid, hence the three-wheeled electric wheelchair production. Custer had actually developed an electric-powered prototype vehicle before the turn of the century. Both of these images would be of the Custer Park Car model and some were used as an amusement park ride in places such as LeSourdsville Lake, Ohio, for many years. Custer also produced other models in the 1930s.

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#1

Re: Custer Cars: Early Electric Vehicles

08/20/2008 8:08 AM

Is that Clive Sinclair's Granny driving that thing?

Del

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Re: Custer Cars: Early Electric Vehicles

08/21/2008 11:26 AM

I don't see much resemblance...

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Re: Custer Cars: Early Electric Vehicles

08/21/2008 9:00 PM

Lots of the early cars were electric and if power companies had not changed to from DC to AC making it more difficult to recharge batteries the internal combustion engine might never have evolved as it was not as fast, reliable or as powerful as the electric motors.

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Re: Custer Cars: Early Electric Vehicles

08/22/2008 2:25 AM

if power companies had not changed to from DC to AC making it more difficult to recharge batteries.

I don't think this statement holds true.
It is difficult to reduce voltage in a DC system without wasting a lot of power, whereas it's simple in an AC system.
I don't think rectification in the early days was as simple as it is now, but I don't think it was that hard.

(Even dropping 24vDC to a 5v supply can be a right pain)

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Re: Custer Cars: Early Electric Vehicles

08/22/2008 7:38 AM

Concur - I think the main reason for the rise of the IC engine (diesel included) was the ability to provide a network for fuel distribution rapidly. Don't forget that (at least in this country - USA) the availability of electrical power was not widespread in cities even until after WWI. In fact, the Rural Electification Administration (REA) was part of the New Deal that came about following the Great Depression in 1935. Kerosene lanterns were common then, so the fuel was obviously available, even if delivered by the barrel instead of by the tanker truck load.

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