You probably already know or have heard about some of the most famous people in the world. However, we thought we would clue you in on some of the most famous people in the automotive industry.
1.) Mary Anderson (Windshield Wiper)
While you’re sloshing around the next time while driving in some heavy rain, think fondly of Mary Anderson, who was awarded with a patent for the first windshield wiper back in 1903. Her design was simple, but it worked well. With a swinging arm holding a rubber blade that had to be operated by hand using a lever inside the car, Anderson has undoubtedly saved thousands of lives with her invention. In 1905, she attempted to sell the concept, but was rebuffed by a Canadian company that said her wiper would not succeed. Big mistake, because Anderson’s windshield wipers became standard in 1916 and she went on to make a fortune.
2.) Alice Huyler Ramsey (Monster Road Trip)
More than a century ago, Alice Huyler Ramsey (22 years old) drove across the country from NYC to San Francisco. Her 3,800-mile journey took 59 days, with only 152 of those miles taking place on paved roads. Without any maps, Ramsey made the trip safely, even though she had to replace 11 tires, repairing a broken brake pedal, and cleaning spark plugs all along the way to keep her vehicle running. In 2000, she became the first woman inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame.
3.) Florence Lawrence (Turn Signals and Brake Lights)
How safe would our cars be today without turn signals or brake lights? Florence Lawrence was not an inventor or even a housewife with a brilliant idea–she was a popular silent movie star. In 1913, her “auto signaling arm” worked by pressing a button, which would elevate or lower an arm with an attached sign that told the driver the direction of the turn. The brake signal used almost the same idea, but with a “stop” sign attached. Sadly, Lawrence never patented her ideas and so she received no credit (or compensation) when other male inventors copied her invention.
4.) The Dodge Brothers (How the Dodge Brand was Started)
Before striking out on their own, the Dodge brothers, John and Horace, worked for a variety of different companies as machinists. Starting with bicycles and then finding their way into the automotive business, they started designing and producing parts for various cars. The owner of Oldsmobile recruited them to build engines, transmissions, and axles. But the Dodge brothers soon gave up their existing clients after accepting an attractive bid from the Ford Co.
Ford was trying to produce a new model, and as the legend goes, the Dodge brothers helped re-engineer the car to turn it into a huge hit. They were responsible for building almost every part of the Model T, but Henry Ford did not seem to appreciate their input about improvements for the vehicle. So, the brothers decided to break away and start their own business.
5.) Helene Rother (Automotive Design)
In 1943, Helene Rother was hired by General Motors to fashion stylish interior designs. She spent four years with GM before moving on to join Nash-Kevinator (now part of Chrysler), working on most of their vehicles from 1948 to 1956. In 1951, Rother became the first woman to speak in front of the Society of Automotive Engineers and later won the Jackson Medal for her design innovations.
6.) Wilma K. Russey (Taxi Driver)
In 1915, Wilma K. Russey became the first female New York City taxi driver. She was well-known for wearing a leopard skin hat and jacket while on the job and never got lost in the Big Apple, even without the aid of city maps.
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