Nikola Tesla Articles
Nikola Tesla's Electric Car - Folklore... or Historical Fact?
In Tesla's Own Words...
Over the years, I have been asked whether Tesla's electric car existed. As an engineer, I have to believe that I have solid reference material before giving a conclusive answer. In the area of Tesla research, I prefer to have it in Tesla’s own words.
After extensive searching, it is quite clear that Tesla had repeatedly publicly written or spoken on this particular topic. I can state this, even though I have yet to see:
- a press account of any public demonstration of Tesla's car,
- financial documents indicating certain corporate involvements,
- Tesla's laboratory notes on a car,
- or correspondence (both business and private) indicating he had made such a car in any way, manner, shape, or form.
Though others take the lack of the above documents as proof that the car never existed... all it means is that outside of the car actually being found, any information on the car is likely to be derivative in nature. That is, it will come from indirect sources such as third parties or interpretations of Tesla’s own writings. Whenever you are dependent on third party accounts, two factors have to be taken into account... the story itself and the story teller.
To date, the entire story of Tesla’s car rests with two accounts... that Arthur Matthews, and that of Peter Savo. After examining both accounts and Tesla’s own statements, as well as contemporary writings, you can decide what’s real.
The Arthur Matthews Story...
Arthur Matthews may well have been Tesla's last assistant. According to the late Dr. Andrija Puharich in a published interview:
Arthur Matthews came from England. Matthews' father was a laboratory assistant to the noted physicist Lord Kelvin back in the 1890s. Tesla came over to England to meet Kelvin to convince him that alternating current was more efficient than direct current. Kelvin at that time opposed the AC movement. In 1902, the Matthews family left England and immigrated to Canada. When Matthews was 16 his father arranged for him to apprentice under Tesla. He eventually worked for him and continued this alliance until Tesla’s death in 1943.
-- Pyramid Guide, 1976
In the early 1940s, Matthews authored the infamous book... The Wall of Light. The first part, attributed to Tesla, is supposed to be Tesla’s autobiography reflecting on his boyhood experiences, his feelings, his research and his strange life among humans. Arthur Matthews completes The Wall of Light (a reference to an impenetrable force field device) with his incredible story that includes Close Encounters with extraterrestrials.
In a 1986 interview, Matthews claims Tesla built his first electric car in 1897 (see inset right). It had an average speed of 94 mph during a drive from New York City to Buffalo. Further Matthews claims that Tesla went to Canada and constructed a smaller version of the Magnifying Transmitter near Sanford Station in Quebec. While there Tesla also demonstrated a number of incredible devices to include a video recorder and player!
from Arthur Matthews 1986 Interview
...Another one of his [Tesla's] great inventions was the electric car. He built the first one in 1897 and he drove from New York City to Buffalo, New York and it had an average speed of 94 miles an hour.....apart from the mechanical parts, that is to say the wheels and the steering apparatus......compose the only moving parts.
The engine in this electric car is a small alternating current motor which runs at the tremendous speed of thirty thousand rpm and this is reduced to eighteen hundred by means of a fluid transmission, also the invention of Tesla. The whole electric car is a magnificent piece of work...
...I could give a few details about this electric car. You see, it does not use a storage battery. It uses the special primary battery and if you know anything about primary batteries you'll know that the only part of a primary battery which fails is the negative plate. Any little dry cells you use for your flashlight, for instance, is the zinc which gives way, and when that gives way the battery goes dead. Well now, Tesla invented a completely new kind of primary battery and in this primary battery, if the negative plate wears out, it can be replaced even by a child in a few seconds.
And the battery, when installed in this electric car, will run that car five hundred miles before the battery needs to be attended to. And when the battery does need to be attended to it would take you ten minutes to remedy whatever is going on and the spare parts are all in the trunk. You have enough spare parts to keep that battery running twelve months of the year. You do not have to stop at the service station. You could run five hundred miles.....at seventy-five miles per hour......across the country and probably not have to stop more than fifteen minutes to attend to the batteries...
The most significant technical information to be gleaned from the transcript on the car is about Tesla's battery. Given that a battery could be viewed as a slow discharge capacitor, it is not out of the range of possibilities that Tesla could have stumbled on a superior electrode. After all he holds a patent on condensers.
At first glance, one is tempted to dismiss the Matthews material without further investigation. His claims that Tesla came from Venus tends to cast a huge shadow of doubt on the rest of the story. While it is well-known historical fact that Tesla built a Magnifying Transmitter in Colorado Springs, and attempted to construct a larger version on Long Island, the Canadian transmitter appeared to be a fabrication.
However, this work alleged to have been done in Canada is at a time in Tesla's life that very little has been written about due to a scarcity of material. Even Tesla's personal correspondence to his relatives is nearly nonexistent at this time. Therefore, there exists the possibility that Tesla did go to Canada for a time.
Over the years, curiosity-seekers to government agents have made the trek to Canada to tap Matthews for information. Dr. Andrija Puharich was one such person. He was investigating the “TeslaScope” which Matthews claimed Tesla had secretly invented to communicate to Mars. Puharich later commented in an article:
It is not generally known, but Tesla actually had two huge magnifying transmitters built in Canada, and Matthews operated one of them. Most people know about the Colorado Springs transmitters and the unfinished one on Long Island. I saw the two Canadian transmitters. All the evidence is there. - Pyramid Guide, 1976
Puharich was not able to confirm the reality of the Teslascope and came away from the experience believing that Matthews (who was then in his 80's) was a mental case. However, an important part Matthews story... the existence of Canadian Magnifying Transmitters was confirmed.
The Canadian government took the Matthews story seriously enough to initiate Project Magnet. In December of 1950, Wilbert B. Smith, a Radio Engineer and world expert in electromagnetism and telecommunications, initiated Canadian government-sponsored UFO studies. Arthur Matthews was involved in the effort to contact UFOs.
The initial reports were so controversial, that the government distanced itself from the program and classified it as secret. Former Canadian Defense Minister, Paul Hellyear, later publicly admitted that project existed. However, he did not mention what Smith reported... the project had actually detected a real UFO with their scientific equipment, and later a scientific research group he directed established communications with a landed interplanetary ship from what their pilots said was Venus.
By now, you are probably wondering how all of this relates to Tesla's car. The point is, that although Matthews seems eccentric, to say the least, and has been involved in some “way out” experiences, enough of his story has been verified to warrant further analysis.
However, there appear to be some major inconsistencies which can only be properly addressed from a historical perspective of the conditions this invention was operated in.
Transportation circa 1900...
Well into the 20th century, the American road system was virtually nonexistent. What passed as roads were often little more than trails that were muddy in the rain and dusty the rest of the time. Any long trip by automobile were onerous treks that required endurance and time. Tire-patching equipment, tools, spare parts, and emergency food and fuel were necessities.
Traditionally, roads have been universally recognized as a state and local responsibility. If state and local officials let the roads deteriorate, it was their decision, and in an era when privately owned railroads dominated interstate travel and commerce, it was not a national concern.
This attitude began to change in the 1890s, when the bicycle revived interest in roads. New Jersey, in 1891, became the first state to adopt a “state-aid” plan, under which a state appropriates funds to be made available to its counties for road improvements. The federal government created the Office of Road Inquiry in 1893, under Gen. Roy Stone, to advise state and local officials on the best methods of improving their roads.
A similar concept of “federal aid” to the states for roads was finally passed in 1916 after intense resistance in Congress. Several factors gradually altered the reluctance to consider the federal-aid concept according to Richard F. Weingroff, a Federal Highway Administration official:
First, the growing involvement of farmers in the good-roads movement reinforced the importance of roads in everyday life. Farmers who initially resisted being taxed to pay for good roads so wealthy city “peacocks” could ride their bicycles became enthusiastic advocates of good roads with the introduction of Rural Free Delivery (RFD), which depended on the existence of passable roads for home delivery of mail.
Second, the rise of the automobile in the early 20th century altered the picture, particularly after 1908, when Henry Ford introduced the low-priced Model T that the average person - not just the wealthy - could afford. The growing power of motorists was reflected in the American Automobile Association (AAA), which became one of the strongest backers of federal action on roads.
Information about an Invention by Dr. Nikola Tesla, which is said to have harnessed Cosmic Energy
Unidentified document circulated in the early 1980s... <Subtitled> by Steve Elswick
< Tesla’s Pierce Arrow >
...Sometime in 1931, Dr Tesla took Peter to Buffalo, NY for the unveiling and final testing of a new kind of automobile. Dr. Tesla acted somewhat mysteriously about it, would tell Peter nothing in advance, and even after he had seen the car, answered some of his questions with “Don’t ask any questions”.
The car turned out to be a standard Pierce Arrow, with the engine removed and certain other components installed instead. The standard Clutch, gear box and drive train remained installed.
Under the hood, there was a brushless electric motor, connected to the engine [?]. The engine was said to measure 40” long by 28” diameter. However, some of these figures may be estimates. Tesla would not divulge who made the motor.
< Tesla’s Power Box >
Set into the dash was a “power receiver” consisting of a box measuring about 24” long by 10” wide by 6” high, containing 12 radio tubes. Three of these tubes were model 70-L-7. A vertical antenna consisting of a 6-foot rod, was installed and connected to the power receiver.
The receiver, in turn, was connected to the motor by two heavy, conspicuous cables. Two “spindles” (rods?) about 1/4” diameter by 3” long protruded from the receiver towards the driver. Tesla pushed these in before starting and said: “We now have power”. These spindles were in line with the two power cables coming out of the back of the unit and presumable worked two separate power switches.
There was a 12-volt Willard battery installed in the car, but it was for the lights only and much too small to run the car. In any case, the motor was an AC motor.
Peter said that Dr. Tesla had built the power receiver himself in his hotel room, and carried it to Buffalo. The motor was built for him by some unknown company. The motor was completely enclosed and when Peter first saw it, it was stopped. Later, after the engine was running, Dr Tesla asked Peter to look under the hood to check whether the fan was running. Peter asked what the fan was for and was told that “The engine is running pretty hot”. Maximum engine speed was 1800 rpm. Power rating was 80 hp.
< A Test Drive >
To start the car, Dr Tesla handed Peter an ignition-type key. Peter inserted it and a green light came on, on the dash. Dr Tesla thereupon said: “The engine is now in motion”. The engine could not be heard from the driver's seat at all. When listening under the hood with the engine on, there was a slight hum. The standard accelerator pedal was used to control engine speed. Clutch, brake and gearshift were unchanged.
The instruments on the dash appeared to be standard ones. However, there was a voltmeter which was used to measure output of the receiver. Dr Tesla commented that the receiver had enough reserve power so that you could drive the car next to a house, connect the wiring, and light up the whole house. There was also some kind of hydraulic pressure gauge on the dash. Peter asked its purpose but Dr Tesla would not tell him.
Peter drove the car for about 50 miles at speeds up to 90 mph (the speedometer was calibrated to 120 mph). Power seemed at least as good as the normal Pierce Arrow engine. Acceleration in second gear seemed particularly good. Shifting gears seemed somewhat smoother than with a normal engine.
Dr Tesla seemed enthusiastic on the first test ride and said, “Peter, this day will make history!” When Peter questioned the source of the energy to drive the car, Dr Tesla said: “It is a mysterious radiation that comes out of the ether.” He said that he did not know where it came from but that it seemed to be available in limitless quantities and that mankind should be thankful for it as it would soon drive boats, cars, trains and planes. Dr Tesla and Peter spent 8 days in Buffalo, testing the car. Peter described an incident where they stopped the car at a traffic light and a bystander commented that he could see no smoke coming from the exhaust. Peter replied to him: “We don’t have an engine”. When they left Buffalo, Dr Tesla removed the “ignition” key and the radio tubes and took them with him. The car was left at a farmhouse some 20 miles from Buffalo, not far from Niagara Falls.
< Security Measures >
The car was kept under tight security and this was the reason for keeping it at such a remote spot. Peter heard a rumor that a secretary of Tesla's broke security and told General Electric about it and promptly got fired. Dr Tesla acted somewhat mysterious and would not answer many of Peter's questions. However, Peter considers this merely part of security measures and categorically ruled out any possibility of a hoax or practical joke.
Peter knows of no specific persons to whom the car was shown. However, about a month after the Buffalo trip he got a phone call from Dr Lee De Forest who asked him: “How did you like that car?” Peter expressed his enthusiasm and De Forest then called Tesla one of the greatest living scientists.
About 7 years ago Peter was approached by a Yugoslav diplomat then at the United Nations (Peter could not remember the name but has a record of it) who asked if he could find the engine and power receiver of that car. He dropped the name Rockefeller and said that they “could make millions” if they had this engine to copy. Peter made some attempts to comply, but without results. Peter is very anti-Tito and probably did not try very hard. The diplomat died about two years ago.
Asked whether he knew of any other applications of this type of power, Peter said that Tesla was negotiating with some big shipbuilding concern to build a boat with such an engine. However, when he asked questions about this, Dr Tesla got annoyed and Peter never found out who the company was.
When asked whatever happened to the car, Peter said that he had heard that it had been shipped to Yugoslavia. However, he has written to friends in Yugoslavia about this and they replied that nothing ever arrived.
Upon being asked whether there was any possibility that drawings of the car might be in existence somewhere, Peter said there was a man in some town in Pennsylvania who might just have such information....
Ed Note: On July 10, 1932 in the Brooklyn Eagle, Tesla said “I have harnessed the cosmic rays and caused them to operate a motive device.” Given the timeframe Savo indicates, this may well be the basis for his profound statement.
Our current Interstate Highway System was formally initiated under President Eisenhower in 1956. He recognized the importance of good highways since 1919 when he participated in the US Army’s first transcontinental motor convoy from Washington, DC, to San Francisco.
On the way west, the convoy experienced all the woes known to motorists and then some - an endless series of mechanical difficulties; vehicles stuck in mud or sand; trucks and other equipment crashing through wooden bridges; roads as slippery as ice or dusty or the consistency of “gumbo”; extremes of weather from desert heat to Rocky Mountain freezing. On Sept. 5, 1919, after 62 days on the road, the convoy reached San Francisco.
Knowing the state of roads in 1901, I highly doubt Tesla could average 94 mph between Buffalo and New York City. The suspension system of any automotive vehicle of that era would have failed catastrophically... and at those speeds... lethally. Finally, Tesla lived on to patent the speedometer in 1914.
If Tesla had a car in 1901 to modify, it would have been an expensive proposition. It was only after the arrival of the Model Ts in 1908 that cars were affordable. And remember, 1901 was an extremely busy time for Tesla as he was building Wardenclyffe - a very expensive project. The time and money aspects almost precludes a 1901 car.
The Peter Savo Story...
The account of Peter Savo's activity with Tesla is derived from an unidentified document circulated in the 1980s. Titled Information about an Invention by Dr. Nikola Tesla which is Said to Have Harnessed Cosmic Energy, it was a summary of an interview on September 16, 1967, of Peter Savo, a nephew of Dr. Nikola Tesla, by Derek Ahlers, an aeronautical engineer. A significant portion has been excerpted on the opposite page.
According to the document:
Peter Savo was born in Knin, Yugoslavia, just before the turn of the century. Dr Nikola Tesla was Peter's uncle on his mother's side. Tesla suggested that Peter come to the United States. He met Peter at the boat on arrival and seems to have taken a fatherly interest in him until his death...
Some “authorities” have claimed that the radiant energy Pierce Arrow story is a fabrication—mainly because Tesla didn't have a nephew named Peter Savo, as stated above. This argument is in itself a fabrication. When I questioned William Terbo, Tesla's grand nephew in his direct line of descent, on the matter, Mr. Terbo did not dismiss the relationship out of hand, rather, he stated that he did not know Peter Savo, but it was not implausible that such a relationship existed. Our discussion then turned to whether Tesla could have been in Buffalo at the time.
The test lasted eight days. At most, Tesla would have been out of New York City for two weeks. This is not a significant amount of time where someone would take notice of.. and given Tesla's penchant for secrecy at the time, he evidently made no note of it.
The amount of detail lends a lot of credibility to Savo's account. Peter was a pilot in the Austrian army. I would assume that military pilots, especially at the time, were trained in making an observation and then be able to generate a detailed report of their observation. Pilots also generally walk around their planes and make detailed examinations for anything that may be amiss or wrong before they fly. With that kind of background, I would expect a highly detailed account that would be from a layman’s perspective... and that is what this account is.
Taking this account at its face value, a lot of valuable information can be gleaned from it. Much of it adds to the veracity of the document.
Savo's Direct Observations...
Tesla's standard Pierce-Arrow was converted from one with an internal combustion engine to one that was electrically powered. The car could attain 90 mph (speedometer calibrated to 120 mph).
Some of the observed components and their operating characteristics are listed below:
- unknown manufacturer
- a brushless 80 HP motor (AC)
- Max motor speed: 1800 rpm
- 40” long and 28” in diameter.
- connected to the power receiver by two heavy, conspicuous cables
- Fan cooled
- built by Tesla in New York City
- contained in a box 24” long x 10” wide x 6” deep
- used 12 radio tubes
- 3 of the radio tubes were model 70-L-7
- used a 6-foot rod as a vertical antenna (indicates a reception frequency of 327MHz if 1/2-wave antenna)
- two 3” long x 1/4” diameter rods protruded from box (pushed in to activate car)
- 12-volt Willard battery
- much too small to run the car.
- presumed to be for the lights only
The standard accelerator pedal was used to control engine speed. Clutch, brake and gearshift were unchanged. The instruments on the dash appeared to be standard ones. However, there was a voltmeter which was used to measure output of the receiver.
Peter also noticed some kind of hydraulic pressure gauge on the dash. Tesla refused to inform him as to its purpose. This observation added considerable veracity to Peter's statement. One would expect a pilot to examine all of the gauges in his vehicle as standard procedure. Tesla's refusal to comment indicates it had nothing to do with the experiment. It has EVERYTHING to do with the vehicle...
This car, being a standard Pierce Arrow, did not have a fuel gauge as we know it. Instead they had pressurized fuel tanks with a gauge on the instrument panel to measure air pressure, not gallons. Of course, the engine being removed, the gauge had no bearing on Tesla's experiment. In 1925, the less expensive Arrows began using a vacuum-based system.
I do not know for sure if a pressure system was used in any of the 1931 models. If not, this would have been an older car they were using for experimental purposes!... and Peter does not specify a year or model, so the 1931 figure is speculation as to the year of the car model.
Tesla's Source of Power...
Dr Tesla commented that the receiver had enough reserve power so that you could drive the car next to a house, connect the wiring, and light up the whole house. Just where did all of this power come from?
Tesla made no secret that he was using Cosmic Energy and referred to it as a “mysterious radiation that comes out of the ether.” Repeatedly during press interviews from 1929 onward, Tesla affirmed the existence of cosmic rays... and indicated that he did considerable experimentation with them.
In a revealing press interview published in Modern Mechanics and Inventions, July 1934, Tesla stated:
I have disintegrated atoms in my experiments with a high potential vacuum tube I brought out in 1896 which I consider one of my best inventions. I have operated it with pressures ranging from 4,000,000 to 18,000,000 volts. More recently, I have designed an apparatus for 50,000,000 volts which should produce many results of great scientific importance.
But as to atomic energy, my experimental observations have shown that the process of disintegration is not accompanied by a liberation of such energy as might be expected from the present theories.
And as for the cosmic ray: I called attention to this radiation while investigating Roentgen rays and radioactivity. In 1899 I erected a broadcasting plant at Colorado Springs, the first and only wireless plant in existence at that time, and there confirmed my theory by actual observation. My findings are in disagreement with the theories more recently advanced.
These tubes are basically covered in the 1901 patents forming the “holy grail” for some radiant energy researchers.
Serious Security Issues...
Intuitively, I feel very comfortable about accepting Savo's account as a legitimate document. It is written very precisely, the observations are coherent, and there is a good amount of logic in it. Furthermore Tesla writes in the Brooklyn Eagle newspaper on July 10th 1932:
I have harnessed the cosmic rays and caused them to operate a motive device...
... More than 25 years ago I began my efforts to harness the cosmic rays and I can now state that I have succeeded in operating a motive device by means of them. I will tell you in the most general way, the cosmic ray ionizes the air, setting free many charges ions and electrons. These charges are captured in a condenser which is made to discharge through the circuit of the motor. I have hopes of building my motor on a large scale, but circumstances have not been favorable to carrying out my plan.
How much clearer can that be?
The lack of other proper documentation is reasonably attributed to Tesla's desire for secrecy. Tesla did NOT suffer from paranoia... he had real enemies with real agendas that were not in Tesla’s best interests. He had literally been stripped of the benefits due from his patents in the past and was cautious to see it did not happen again.
According to Savo, Tesla kept the car stored at a farmhouse about 20 miles from Buffalo near Niagara Falls. When Tesla left to go back to New York, he took the keys and power receiver with him. Apparently, this was the only time Tesla demonstrated the car to Peter. It is not known if Tesla demonstrated the car to others, although Lee de Forest asked Peter specifically about the car after the trip.
Keeping a tight lip, Tesla refused to answer many of Peter's questions related to the car. Rumor has it that a secretary of Tesla's broke security and told General Electric about it and promptly got fired. As to the car's disposition after Tesla's death, Peter claims he heard it got shipped to Yugoslavia. However, his sources in Yugoslavia stated that nothing ever arrived.
Final Remarks on Peter Savo...
At the time of the interview in 1967, Peter Savo was a lonely, bored old man, living in a cheap Manhattan hotel and supported by his two sons who were US Navy pilots in Vietnam. His idleness and worries had induced a nervous condition with certain accompanying physical symptoms.
The interviewer encouraged Peter to reconstruct the facts surrounding the Tesla car. Peter then indicated that he would pursue the matter further. Evidently, Peter Savo had discussed this car with others over the years, as I have seen other versions of this document and articles that have slightly different details, but none that conflict with each other.
This is a very believable story if one knows some relevant background. First, Tesla has a historic connection with Buffalo, NY. His generators powered the city... and it was Tesla’s dream to harness them. The harnessing of Niagara Falls was one of the most significant events in the industrial age, because for the first time in history, men had easy access to cheap, abundant energy which ultimately led to Buffalo becoming a major industrial center.
The availability of energy was a major factor in the creation of entire new industries. Aluminum processing, for instance, requires an immense amount of electricity in its conversion process. It is no accident that companies such as Aluminum Company of America and US Steel began in Buffalo. At its heyday, thirty automobile manufacturing plants were located there... including the Pierce-Arrow Company.
If Tesla was working closely with Pierce-Arrow as some accounts allege, then it would make sense that the tests would be in Buffalo so upper management would be in a position to observe their progress. Especially since Tesla’s portion was portable.
Another key point to be made is an economic one. Tesla was doing this work at a time when the entire country was sliding into a depression. All of the auto manufacturers were in financial trouble... with Pierce Arrow being an exception to the rule. Therefore, it would be logical that Tesla would seek affiliation with an auto company that had funds to do research and development. Furthermore, Pierce-Arrow had a pioneering spirit and were pioneering large motors at the time. It wouldn't be unreasonable to expect them to want to be a leader in the electric auto market if Tesla's work panned out.
Given all of the above, Savo's account is quite plausible. To be honest, I was a nonbeliever with reference to Tesla's car. After all of the research I have done to this point, I am partially convinced of its reality.. and that the Pierce-Arrow would have been Tesla’s car of choice.
The Pierce-Arrow Motor Car Company
Buffalo, New York • 1901-1938
The Pierce-Arrow Motor Car Company of Buffalo was one of the world's premier automobile and truck manufacturers. George Pierce introduced his “Motorette” in 1901 and Pierce-Arrow trucks were used extensively in Europe during World War I. The word ‘Arrow’ actually came from one of the George N Pierce Company's path breaking models so fundamental to the manufacturer's growth that it was incorporated in the firm’s own name.
The list of Pierce-Arrow owners reads like a ‘Best of Who's Who’ consisting of royalty, political leaders, personalities, industrialists and the like. All Pierce-Arrows were masterpieces in engineering, and consequently their price tags also were quite stratospheric. Not just the cars, even the advertising for Pierce-Arrows were collector's items, characterised by beautiful illustrations by the best American artists and minimal copy. While most of them showed elegant settings, some of the publicity material placed the cars in unlikely settings to communicate their reliability.
In the 1920, the Series 32 Pierce-Arrow cars came off the line. Mechanical refinements were made a year later and the car was renamed the Series 33. Approximately 6000 Series 33 cars were manufactured between 1921-1926. Prices for the Series 33 ranged from $6500 to $8500. This car was still aimed toward the rich and famous.
The Series 33 featured a powerful Dual-Valve Six engine with a T-head arrangement using four valves per cylinder inclined 5° toward the cylinder bore. The valves were operated by dual gear-driven camshafts. A Delco dual-ignition system was used to start the engine. This system used two spark plugs per cylinder, two coils, and two distributors—in 1924 the dual distributors were replaced with a single 14-tower unit.
Switches on the instrument panel allowed the driver to run the car on either the right or left set of spark plugs, or for maximum power, both sets simultaneously. This gave the car top speed of 75 miles per hour. Fuel was supplied from a gas tank at the rear of the car by a pressure system. A gauge on the instrument panel measured air pressure, not gallons. This car was rated at about 12 miles per gallon. A few minor bends in the sheet metal, balloon tires, and mechanical changes transformed the Series 33 into the Series 36 which was produced in 1927 and 1928.
In late 1924, the Pierce-Arrow Motor Car Company introduced the Series 80, a less expensive model than the Series 33. The Series 80 was smaller and powered by a 288.6 cubic inch L-head six engine. A vacuum tank was used to supply fuel instead of the old pressure system. Only one set of valves and a single ignition system was used. Prices ranged from $2895 to $4045—a bit more affordable for the average hard working family.
The Great Depression be damned, Pierce-Arrow was entering its most successful phase ever. In 1929, they introduced a fresh line-up of cars that were powered by a new straight eight, which replaced their ageing six cylinder motor. Studebaker Corporation picked up a majority stake in Pierce-Arrow in 1928 to fill up the premium gap in their portfolio. Though manufacturing of both makes were kept separate, Studebaker had a profound influence on Pierce-Arrow, and bankrolled the development of the inline eight, while increasing its dealer network... leading to the 1929 Pierce-Arrow sales record of 9,840 cars.
Studebaker Corporation failed in 1933. However, a group of Buffalo businessmen led by George F. Rand Jr, bought control of the Pierce-Arrow operation. Kept open under the presidency of Arthur J. Chanter, Pierce-Arrow also went bankrupt 1938.
InterNet “Tesla Car Search”...
I spent hours searching for additional material on the internet. Amazingly, Tesla's name has gone from obscurity in 1984 to probably one of the most commercialized names on the net. It's kind of pathetic that 90% of the sites were nothing more than book sales sites and in a lot of cases Tesla's name was included to generate a hit on the search engine as I could not find any Tesla material there. It was a classic demonstration as to how much of a two-edged sword the InterNet has become.
There is a lot of valuable information on the web, but there is also a lot of misinformation and redundant information. Redundancy in itself is not bad, but when you go to a site for original information and all that it offers is a link back to where you have already been... it becomes a time waster.
The Amazon affiliate book sites are the worst... and none of them have any really good book reviews. Most of them just post the book, possibly a very short review copied from Amazon, and a link to Amazon.
All I will say further on the matter is if TeslaTech members want to truly support and insure the free energy movement, then they need to stop buying from Amazon and patronize the inventors and sites that truly advance free energy. It may cost a few dollars more now, here and there, but it helps those who PRODUCE the material to survive. The alternative is... save a dollar now, and be stuck with reruns later.
Serious researchers find themselves in a blizzard of information and misinformation, and must hone their search techniques to find the information they are looking for. In the end, I found only three unique files on the InterNet directly related to the Tesla Motor... and all three were on KeelyNet. Every other legitimate reference on the search engines were links to one of these.
By A.C. Greene, columnist
reprinted from: Dallas Morning News • January 24th, 1993 • Sunday
The Electric Auto that Almost Triumphed • Power Source of ’31 Car Still a Mystery
Not long ago, Texas Sketches told the story of Henry “Dad” Garrett and his son C.H.'s water-fueled automobile, which was successfully demonstrated in 1935 at White Rock Lake in Dallas. Eugene Langkop of Dallas (a Packard lover, like so many of us) notes that the “wonder car” of the future may be a resurrection of the electric car. It uses no gasoline, no oil - just some grease fittings - has no radiator to fill or freeze, no carburetor problems, no muffler to replace and gives off no pollutants.
Famous former electrics include Columbia, Rauch & Lang and Detroit Electric. Dallas had electric delivery trucks in the 1920s and 30s. Many electric delivery vehicles were used in big cities into the 1960s. The problem with electrics was slow speed and short range. Within the past decade two Richardson men, George Thiess and Jack Hooker, claimed to have used batteries operating on magnesium from seawater to increase the range of their electric automobile from 100 miles to 400 or 500 miles.
But it is a mystery car once demonstrated by Nikola Tesla, developer of alternating current, that might have made electrics triumphant. Supported by the Pierce-Arrow Co. and General Electric in 1931, he took the gasoline engine from a new Pierce-Arrow and replaced it with an 80-horsepower alternating-current electric motor with no external power source.
At a local radio shop he bought 12 vacuum tubes, some wires and assorted resistors, and assembled them in a circuit box 24 inches long, 12 inches wide and 6 inches high, with a pair of 3-inch rods sticking out. Getting into the car with the circuit box in the front seat beside him, he pushed the rods in, announced, “We now have power,” and proceeded to test drive the car for a week, often at speeds of up to 90 mph.
As it was an alternating-current motor and there were no batteries involved, where did the power come from?
Popular responses included charges of “black magic,” and the sensitive genius didn’t like the skeptical comments of the press. He removed his mysterious box, returned to his laboratory in New York - and the secret of his power source died with him.
The KeelyNet Files...
KeelyNet started out during the infant stages computing before there was even an InterNet. It began as a bulletin board maintained by Jerry Decker, a founder of Vanguard Sciences in Dallas, TX. Its primary purpose is to serve as a document archive and listserver for those interested in alternative science. As part of their program, they digitize various items of interest (articles, notes, letters, papers, etc.) and post them on their site. (Members who are interested in KeelyNet can access them through the TeslaTech “Links” page.)
On January 24, 1993 a newspaper article with a detailed description of Tesla’s car appeared in the Dallas Morning News. It was in a column called Texas Sketches written by A.C. Greene... a leading Texas historian and columnist (see below). His interest piqued, Jerry Decker, sysop for KeelyNet, called Mr. Green and Mr. Langkop who both courteously sent Jerry some additional source material. Both also expressed an interest in more Tesla information as well as Texas experimenters, Jerry sent them material in return. The original article from which Mr. Greene gleaned the information for his article came from a Packard Newsletter. Mr. Gene Langkop kindly sent Jerry a copy of that article: The Forgotten Art of Electric-Powered Automobiles by Arthur Abrom.
The Abrom article first described Tesla’s Battle of the Currents (AC vs DC) for the electric grid our homes, stores and factories are connected to, even today. Abrom then switched his attention to the current battle for the motive power of automobiles (internal combustion vs electric):
Now specifically dealing with automobiles in the infant days of their development, electric propulsion was considered and used. An electric powered automobile possessed many advantages that the noisy, cantankerous, smoke-belching gasoline cars could not offer. First and foremost is the absolute silence one experiences when riding in an electrically powered vehicle. There is not even a hint of noise. One simply turns a key and steps on the accelerator - the vehicle moves instantly! No cranking from the start, no crank to turn (this was before electric starters), no pumping of the accelerator, no spark control to advance and no throttle linkage to pre-set before starting. One simply turned the ignition switch to on!
Second, is a sense of power. If one wants to increase speed, you simply depress the accelerator further— there is never any hesitation. Releasing the accelerator causes the vehicle to slow down immediately—you are always in complete control. It is not difficult to understand why these vehicles were so very popular around the turn of the century and until 1912 or so...
Abrom then draws our attention to the fact that electric vehicles were ultimately doomed due to the need for speed and range. The weakness of an electric car is that the power was supplied by batteries... and batteries have to be recharged on a periodical basis. Public transportation solved the problem with electrified rails and cable cars. Railroads developed diesel electromotive engines in which a diesel engine ran a generator for their electric motors. Both solutions were impractical for automobiles.
In the Abrom account, “Pierce-Arrow and George Westinghouse” teamed up to finance the research. This absolutely cannot be true. George Westinghouse died in 1915... some 16 years earlier. However, it is conceivable that it may have been the Westinghouse Corporation. The Greene account states it was General Electric, but the Savo account stated a secretary was fired for leaking information to General Electric.
This may be an indication that General Electric was working with Tesla, and when they contacted his office for information, the secretary inadvertently gave them information Tesla was not ready to release.
Conflicting Test Details...
The test details outlined in the Abrom and Greene accounts are eerily similar to that of Peter Savo's account... except one major detail on the power receiver. The Abrom/Greene accounts make no mention of the six-foot aerial... rather they lead the reader to believe that the power was drawn from two 3” rods sticking out of the box. This would make it appear that the operating frequency would be 3.93 GHz instead of 164MHz.
In Peter Savo's account, the two 3” rods were control rods... presumably to turn the power receiver on. This critical difference does not make any of the articles and documents a fabrication... rather they tend to increase the credibility of the Greene article, the Savo interview, and the Abrom article for reasons I will cover later in this article with a startling conclusion that just occurred to me.
The rest of the Abrom article covers the Howard Johnson Motor, the organized opposition against the introduction of alternative energy, and briefly mentions the Theis-Hooker batteries.
The SysOp Comments...
After placing the Greene and Abrom articles on KeelyNet, Jerry Decker, the system operator (SysOp) wrote a commentary with his thoughts on the Tesla power box, and listed that file on KeelyNet.
In his commentary Jerry reflects on the differences between the Moray device and Tesla’s motor as described in the Abrom/Greene articles. Primarily, Moray had a “tuned” device that could only power resistive loads... inductive or capacitive loads would change the resonant frequency of the device, thus causing a loss of power.
As Decker analyzed the Abrom account, he assumed that the 3” rods were antennas... there was no mention of a 6-foot aerial as in Savo's account. This led him astray not only in calculating an operating frequency, but also the configuration. The drawing on the previous page is one of two speculative configurations that he believed Tesla may have used.
In his proposal he suggested the addition of diodes to the antenna to rectify the current. This is unnecessary due to the fact that since diodes were nonexistent to speak of at the time, tubes were configured to act as diodes. It is most likely that Tesla used tubes for that purpose.
Decker speculated on whether the Tesla Power Box was configured for maximum current (parallel circuit) or maximum voltage (series circuit). In doing so, he defines the physical parameters of each configuration.
Unfortunately, his comments were based on an account that was missing details that Savo supplied. Had those been available, his comments would be very different.
Yes, Virginia, Tesla Had a Car...
I do not believe that there can be any doubt as to whether Tesla tested a cosmic powered car. In fact, I believe that there was not just one test... but on at least two occasions, Tesla went to Buffalo and tested a cosmic powered Pierce-Arrow automobile!
At first, I made a fatal error of considering the Abrom account as another version of the Savo account. However, when one compares the Abrom account to the Savo account, there are differences in the details that could only come from two very different viewpoints... and from two different events.
Starting with the finances, Abrom seemed to know those involved, but the mixup with Westinghouse detracts from the story. He could have meant the Westinghouse Corporation. The “correction” by Greene from Westinghouse to General Electric also throws the issue in the air. Peter Savo claims to be completely in the dark concerning Tesla’s alliances. His only reference to General Electric was in connection with a security issue. But keep in mind, General Electric and Westinghouse had collaborated before in 1886 to set the national standard for distributing AC power.
In Abrom's account, the same description of box which held is given with the 3” rods specifically mentioned in each. However, in the Abrom account there is no antenna mentioned, leading one to believe that the rods collect the energy from the air. On the other hand, Savo speaks like one who has operated it and explains they are control rods (on/off switches?). He saw Tesla attach the aerial which is why he mentioned it, in the other account, it may have been already attached and thus unnoticed.
The origin of the box is significantly different in each account. In Abrom's account, Tesla builds the device in Buffalo from parts he purchased in a local store, whereas in Savo's account Tesla brings the box with him from New York City.
The two accounts vary as to the way the test periods ended. The Abrom account states that at the end of the test, when Tesla revealed his power source to be cosmic rays, several people called him a “madman in league with sinister forces.” Tesla was so incensed that he removed his box and left for New York City. In contrast, Savo's account depicts a private jaunt to a secluded storage area, removal of the box and a return to New York City. To me, this indicates that Abrom's article covers a semi-public test and that Savo recounted a private test.
Furthermore, the Savo test most likely occurred first in 1931... and that is why Tesla says “I can now state...!” in 1932 during his annual interview with the Brooklynn Eagle! The choice of his words indicate he had accomplished it within the previous 12 months... and referring to the car as a motive device further indicates the lengths he went through to keep it secret.
The New York Daily News, April 2, 1934 carried an article titled “Tesla’s Wireless Power Dream Nears Reality” which mentioned a planned test run of a “motor car” using wireless transmission of electrical energy to power the vehicle.
This indicates Tesla was still working in this area at the time, and most likely invited the press for the forthcoming demonstration. Ridiculed at the demonstration, he stormed away from the crowd with the box.. and most likely refused to speak to anyone on the matter further, thus effectively killing the story!
If this is so, the car was left on the lot when Tesla left. One can only draw the conclusion that there was nothing special about the electric motor... the secret was in the box that Tesla carried away with him. The car most likely belonged to Pierce-Arrow, and who knows what they may have done to it.
In conclusion, after reviewing the information thus far uncovered, one has to believe that Tesla had a cosmic power car. We will be returning to the subject at a later date as we try to replicate the box.
Anyone who may have information or related documents are encouraged to contact the author at TeslaTech Headquarters. In addition to our efforts, we will be covering others who are also working on space energy devices.