Re: Video Premiere: Pioneering Front Wheel Drive!

Dick Tuttle

While the Cugnot was surely the first front wheel drive vehicle, three others, Americans at that, were early pioneers.  George Seldon of the patent fame, designed a front wheel drive with transverse engine which no futurist if his time could imagine would become the standard configuration most cars, despite the long dominance of the systeme Panhard.  Walter Christie was a genius of a pioneer in front wheel drive in the early 1900s.  He also designed an army tank suspension that allowed tanks to go over 40 mph.  Our stodgy US military wouldn't buy it but the Germans and Russians snapped up the concept and made the best tanks of WW2 using it.  Racing car builder Harry Miller built FWD track racers in the late 20s and early 30s that proved successful as well.  I think that practical front wheel drive came with the development of the CV joint by Rzeppa and Citroen.

When I was 17 I worked as a mechanic for a Lloyd dealer.  One if the salesmen to tout front wheel drive had an illustration of a fellow with a wheelbarrow trying to mount a couple if steps.  Pushing got him nowhere but turning around and pulling it became a piece of cake,  Ah, front wheel drive!

Dick Tuttle

-----Original Message-----
From: Raymond Nierlich via <ray_nierlich@...>
To: <>; <>
Sent: Wed, Feb 2, 2022 3:37 pm
Subject: Re: [ArcaneAutos] Video Premiere: Pioneering Front Wheel Drive!

On further research it seems Ruxtons were known for losing wheels. They have left and right hand lugs, like old Chyslers, but I believe the problem is with the taper on the stub axle. Don't think they were handed. Maybe the material was too soft or the torque spec too low. Will have to look into it more.


On Wednesday, February 2, 2022, 12:37:56 PM PST, Ken Nelson <citbuff@...> wrote:

So R & L hand threads on wrong side like I heard some Chrysler prods had way back?  Or were they knockoff splines??


On Wed, Feb 2, 2022 at 3:30 PM Raymond Nierlich via <> wrote:
An interesting fact about Ruxtons. If you accidentally swap the front hubs and fit them on the wrong sides of the car, the wheels DO come off. A few years back there was a beauty entered in the Pebble Beach Concours and on the Tour D'Elegance drive on the Thursday preceding it lost a front wheel on the stretch to Bixby Bridge. Embarassing for the owner I am sure. Wonder how the conversation with the restorer went afterwards?


On Wednesday, February 2, 2022, 12:09:37 PM PST, Christopher Freitas <christopher64@...> wrote:

Interesting - according to wikipedia, the Ruxton body was designed by Joseph Ledwinka (a cousin of Hans Ledwinka of Tatra) when he worked at Budd Manufacturing - which had sold a license for their body stamping system to Citroen in 1923.  So lots of connections there for sure.  Joseph also worked with Porsche on the early VW Beetle design as well.   

The Cord L-29 apparently beat the Ruxton to market by a few months as the first production front wheel drive car - but neither it nor the Ruxton where produced in that substantial of numbers - Cord built around 4,400 of the L-29 between 1929 and 1932.  

DKW built a front wheel drive car with a transverse engine called the F1 (1931-1932 with 4000 produced) and then the F2 (1932-35 with 17,000 produced) and so should also be recognized as well.  

There were also two Alder models in Germany, called the "Trumpf" and "Trumpf JR", released in 1931 which were also front wheel drive. 

The Citroen Traction Avant started production in 1934. It was the first steel monocoque front wheel drive car though.  


On Wed, Feb 2, 2022 at 10:21 AM Ken Nelson <citbuff@...> wrote:
Well well, and here I thought Citroen invented production FWD!  And what's really impressive about this Ruxton bit is the push/pull shifter which may be where the 2CV got its cueball!  So - is there any other obscure marque which REALLY was the first FWD vehicle?  Anyone? 
And please don't anyone suggest the horse! 


---------- Forwarded message ---------
From: Petersen Automotive Museum <pam@...>
Date: Wed, Feb 2, 2022 at 12:13 PM
Subject: Video Premiere: Pioneering Front Wheel Drive!
To: <citbuff@...>

THE FIRST American Front Wheel Drive Production Car
Video Premiere:
THE FIRST American Front Wheel Drive Production Car

Today, we're picking a very special car out of the Petersen Vault presented by Hagerty - the Ruxton Runabout. This classic car from the Petersen's own car collection is not only rare but extremely forward-thinking.

The innovative Ruxton was one of the first series-produced, front-wheel-drive cars built in America. Novel for the day, the drive system did not require the use of a traditional driveshaft, which allowed designers to build a car that was so low it did not need running boards. Ruxtons were built at both the Moon automobile plant in St. Louis, Missouri, and the Kissel automobile plant in Hartford, Wisconsin, but the firm was not well-financed and failed after only about 500 cars were built. This is one of just four roadsters known to survive and is powered by a 100 horsepower, straight-eight engine. Though unusual, the light raspberry and orchid colors are correct for the era.
Petersen Automotive Museum
A 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization


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