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First Automobile Patent

It was 134 years ago this May 8 that George B. Selden filed the first patent for a gasoline-powered automobile.

Selden, a finely clever fellow of Rochester, New York, accomplished something that many automobile pioneers failed to do, make some cash through his efforts. In fact, the Association of Licensed Automobile Manufacturers paid royalties to Selden for years although the inventor never actually constructed the vehicle he designed and patented.

Despite filing the first patent for a gas-driven car, Selden failed to receive the first patent due to the slowness with which his patent was processed. By the time the patent was finally granted, Karl Benz had already received his German patent.


About the author: Andrew Greene


Now playing the role of grumpy old man in the foothills of Northern California’s Gold Country, Andrew has had a life-long love affair with vehicles of all sorts, from the bicycle he pedaled across the continent in 1991 to the armored personnel carriers he drove in the Army to the bamboo rafts, elephants, motorcycle taxis, ferries and buses he traveled by during the 13 years he lived and worked in South East Asia. Always eager to learn more about how the people of the world get from here to there in their day-today lives, he, a professional journalist, has been covering the vehicle industry for years.


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