Today it seems all the automakers are talking gas
mileage. They all think their solution to the mpg
problem is the right one and clearly state the EPA
estimated mpg in their ads.
Would you believe us if we told you this has been
going on for almost 100 years? If you answered no,
you probably haven’t heard of Frank J. Enger. Mr.
Enger was a carriage maker who was known for the
quality of his work and in 1908 decided to build
The Enger Motor Car Company of Cincinnati, Ohio, put
out an ad in 1917 that stated the Enger Twin-Unit
Twelve model got 35 mpg. It actually averaged 36.8 on
the track at Indianapolis.
The Enger Twin-Unit was powered by a 60 degree V-12
that displaced 227.3 cubic inches and was rated at 55 hp.
But the amazing thing about this vehicle was when you
pulled a lever on the steering column you deactivated
the exhaust valves and fuel supply to one bank of the
engine making it a 6 cylinder.
Yes, it was the 1916 version of GM’s Displacement on
Demand technology in use today. The problem Mr. Enger
had was that the Twin-Unit Twelve sold for $1,095 in
1917 which was 4 times the cost of a new Ford Model
Mr. Enger committed suicide in 1917 and left
instructions that the family keep the company going.
Being a married man this didn’t happen of course.
And thus ends the tale of first use of “displacement
on demand” technology.
A few more items you probably didn’t think go back
as far as they do is the tilt steering wheel (1916),
and the locking steering column (1913).
Comments are always welcome.