Ray M. Owen
Before the days of the automatic gearbox, the petrol-electric transmission enjoyed a certain vogue, particularly as it was invented in the era of the non-synchromesh or ‘crash’ gearbox. However although the petrol-electric was easy to use, it was also expensive to build, bulky and heavy, which made it more suitable for commercial vehicles (such as the Tilling- Stevens) than for the private car.
There were one or two notable exceptions to this general rule, however, and one of the more ingenious electric transmissions was conceived just before World War 1 by Ray M. Owen of the Baker, Rauch & Lang company of Cleveland, Ohio, who were renowned for their Baker and Raulang battery electric cars.
The Entz Transmission
Owen adapted the Entz transmission, which was designed for use in the new generation of oil-engined battleships (such as the 1919 New Mexico), for automotive use, and began production of a luxury car with this form of drive in 1914. Under its original name of Owen Magnetic, the ‘Car of a Thousand Speeds’ was not very successful, but by 1920 J. L. Crown had taken over the design rights, and was producing cars in a factory at Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.
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