If you thoughts hybrids are the latest thing on the block, think again. There was one in 1896! No, we are not kidding! The Armstrong Phaeton is probably the world’s first hybrid car. It was ahead of its time then, for it featured a gasoline powered 6.5 liter 2-cylinder engine and a dynamo flywheel that was connected to an on-board battery. The dynamo and regenerative braking charged the battery which provided the necessary power to start the engine. The Cadillac’s self-starter system came only about 16 years later! Impressed, we are!
The Armstrong Phaeton was developed by Harry E. Dey and built by the Armstrong Company for the Roger Mechanical Carriage Company. The dynamo not only started the engine by providing the ignition spark, it also operated the car’s electric transmission. The Phaeton also had a semi-automatic transmission. It had 3 forward gears and a reverse gear with a selector on the steering wheel. An electric clutch automatically disengaged and reengaged the gears, making a clutch pedal obsolete.
The world’s first hybrid car Armstrong Phaeton was too powerful for its own good. The torque from its hybrid motor repeatedly damaged the carriage wheels. Holman engineering in Massachusetts reinforced the wheels and fixed other issues as well. Now, this futuristic-in-its-day car is up for auction at the Concours d’Elegance on March 10, 2016. Estimates put it at worth $175,000 to $275,000. The fact that something like this still exists is remarkable. That it is still drivable is even more astonishing.
Only a single example of this remarkable world’s first hybrid car was built by Armstrong. It was used regularly and remained at Armstrong’s Bridgeport facility until 1963 when it was flood-damaged and moved to a personal garage by a worker. From there, it passed on from the Connecticut-made automobiles collection to a collector in the UK named Robin Loder. He restored it to operating condition before selling it the current owner. Now, this fascinating piece of automotive history will change owners once again and live on for perhaps, another century.
Please follow us at Facebook.com/MotorLifeOfficial for regular updates from the world of motoring.
Check out our gallery for the images of this unique car! Let us know your thoughts in the comments below. You might be interested in reading about the most expensive car to be auctioned ever.