Charles Brady King was a mechanical engineer and tinkerer who, like many younger men of the 1890s, was fascinated by engines and the potential of personal transportation. In his shop in Detroit, King and associates would spend hours going over diagrams in magazines and building their own versions. Thanks to income from his inventions, King had bought a one-cylinder gasoline engine and a carriage; on this date in 1896, after tying the engine to an accelerator pedal and muffler, King drove down St. Antoine to Woodward Avenue at five miles an hour — the first appearance of an automobile in the Motor City.
As the Detroit Free Press reported:
The first horseless carriage seen in this city was out on the streets last night. It is the invention of Charles B. King, a Detroiter, and its progress up down Woodward Avenue about 11 o’clock caused a deal of comment, people crowding around it so that its progress was impeded. The apparatus seemed to work all right, and went at the rate of five or six miles an hour at an even rate of speed
King was enthusiastic about the potential of cars, but for several reasons decided against starting his own firm then. Riding alongside on a bicycle was one of King's friends, who would take his own car out on a similar drive three months later: Henry Ford.
King would later work at several start-up automakers and launch King Motor Cars in 1910 — becoming the first U.S. automaker to offer cars with the steering wheel on the left and the first affordable V-8. His company eventually became part of Studebaker.