Sunday, November 8, 2009

The "Hay" is on the Way!

The oldest car in our collection is en route to Fairbanks! Our 1898 Hay Motor Vehicle (also incorrectly known as a Hay & Hotchkiss) was discovered in a barn in Connecticut in the 1940s, not far from where it was built in New Haven. It passed through several owners (including the Powers Auto Museum) over the years, remaining pretty much in the unrestored condition pictured at right.

The Hay's last owner, Ambassador William Middendorf II, had Sean Brayton and Peter Pitcher begin what would turn into a very lengthy restoration of this unusual little car. This is the only Hay Motor Vehicle ever made, as the car never made it into production. This is likely due to the 4-cylinder, 8-cycle engine's odd design: Walter Hay claimed that no oil or water was needed to run it, "the motor simply running a trifle harder when no oil is used"! 

The 8 cycles of the engine gave two full revolutions to clean and cool the cylinders, giving it a pure mixture of fuel and air for complete combustion and obviate exhaust odor. The governing of the engine is done by holding the exhaust valves open and thus the admission valves are also open, so only air is exchanged. The cutout is done on opposite sides of the engine, and power requirements will cause the engine to fire as needed. Willy's opinion is that this engine would never run very well, due to its design and complicated nature. He spent a couple days with Sean Brayton of Red Star Restoration playing with this engine and it will run, but you probably won't see him taking any trips down the Parks Highway in it!


As best we know, our Hay is the earliest American four-cylinder gasoline-powered automobile still in existence. Sean just finished a complete restoration on it, and the car is now on its way to Alaska. We're pleased that the Hay was able to be shown in its birthplace of New Haven (pictured here) before beginning its voyage north. It is a striking vehicle, and you will enjoy seeing it when you come to visit.

Willy and Nancy

1 comment:

  1. 1898 Hay-Hotchkiss Horseless Carriage

    I cannot believe the former owner didn't tell me about the car being exhibited in New Haven, just 45 minutes from where I live in Greenwich.
    -Martha Hay mehdeegan@aol.com

    My grandfather, Walter Redington Hay, invented that car, in New Haven, CT. When it was cranked, it made such a loud bang it scared the horses.

    ReplyDelete

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