The pages of history are lined with failed attempts to create an automobile in the 19th century. One such “orphan” that remains with us today is the Benton Harbor Motor Carriage. The “motocycle” as it was also referred to in period was designed and built by the carriage builders, Albert and Lewis (Louis) Baushke of Benton Harbor, MI with the help of William O. Worth, an engine builder and inventor from Chicago. The trio intended to compete in the 1895 Chicago Times-Herald “Motocycle Competition” (one of the first automobile races in America).
Unfortunately they didn’t complete the car in time and when it was first tested in early 1896 it proved to be a failure and the Baushke brothers and Worth parted ways. Although the Baushke brothers gave up aspirations for an automobile company after producing their one and only car, Worth went on to found the Chicago Motor Vehicle Company and other enterprises, where over the next decade, he produced a handful of automobiles until falling into obscurity. Worth retained the original Benton Harbor until the 1930s and it was eventually sold to David Kolzow who restored it and donated it to the AACA Museum, Inc. in 1995.
The Benton Harbor was recognized as part of American automotive heritage with its inclusion in the National Historic Vehicle Register at last night’s AACA Museum, Inc. Night at the Museum Event.