The automobiles of The Collection on Palmetto date from 1886 to 1952, with special attention paid to the Brass Era, from 1896-1915. In no other era of automotive history did technology develop as rapidly. From materials used to methods of propulsion, the Brass Era constitutes a formative stride in automobile history.
Today we consider the automobile almost as an extension of our own bodies. We describe distance not in miles, but in minutes/hours. Rain, darkness, mountains, rivers, and extremes in temperature don't even factor into our travel plans. It wasn't always that way.
In 1900 America was a vast and mostly rural place compared to rest of the civilized world. The average American would live and die never venturing beyond a 25-mile radius of home. The first 15 years of the automobile would take us from an isolated existence to give folks the independence and freedom to be fully interconnected. Within a single generation life went from 6 to 60 MPH!
In many ways the evolution of the automobile parallels the space race. Sputnik to space shuttle occurred over a similar time span. The advancements in technology, metallurgy and manufacturing were equally advanced with both evolutions. Their impacts on life are almost immeasurable.
The dawn of the automobile up to the first world war is referred to as the “brass era” due to the brightwork being of brass since chrome plating had yet to be invented.
Take a tour through our collection to gain a better understanding of how that all unfolded.
Steve Cook, Horseless Carriage Club of America Chairman of the Board