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Cartercar was founded by Byron Carter in 1905 and production continued until 1915. Models were produced with first one cylinder then two cylinder engines through 1909. The company was absorbed into General Motors in 1909. They introduced their first 4-cylinder engine in 1910. The Cartercar was best known for its gearless “Friction Drive” transmission which allowed selection of any ratio rather than fixed gears; hence they were advertised as “the Car of a Thousand Speeds”. In 1910 Byron Carter, ever the gentleman, stopped to help a woman start her Cadillac. The crank-starter kicked back and broke his jaw and hand. While in the hospital with the injuries, complications set in and combined with pneumonia died. Henry Leland, president of Cadillac was so distraught over the death of his friend, he set out to solve the problem of the hand-crank. When the engineers at Cadillac were unable to come up with a viable starter, he brought in Charles Kettering who had invented a small compact electric motor to operate cash registers while with National Cash Register. The resulting electric starter won Cadillac many accolades.
- Equipped with “Friction Drive” which allowed selection of any ratio rather than fixed gears
- Absorbed into General Motors in 1909
- Death of its founder led to the invention of the electric starter