America has obtained wondrous achievements, all due to its people who have come from all walks of life, different nationalities and cultures. We take pride in America’s diversity. In the spirit of Black History Month, Adventure Subaru wants to celebrate African Americans who have been inspirational and influential in America’s automotive history. Here is the beginning of a substantial list of African American innovators who have helped shape the American automobile industry to what is today. 


C.R. PATTERSON: Born into slavery in April 1833, on a West Virginian plantation, Patterson escaped to Ohio in 1862. Mr. Patterson went into business with his white partner, J.P. Lowe, a local carriage manufacturer that produced up to 28 different types of horse-drawn vehicles. When Lowe died, Patterson continued on with the business and renamed it to C.R. Patterson & Sons Company. Before his death in 1910, Patterson had already designed and manufactured a gas-powered “horseless carriage.” Patterson’s company is considered the world’s first and only African American owned and founded automobile company.


CHARLIE WIGGINS: Originally from Evansville, Indiana, Charlie Wiggins was born in 1897. Shortly after World War I, Wiggins moved to Indianapolis, started his own garage and built his own race car out of spare parts. It was named “the Wiggins Special.” Due to segregation laws of the time, Wiggins was not allowed to race in the Indianapolis 500. In response, Wiggins and other African American race car drivers formed their own motor racing league. The Gold and Glory Sweepstakes was a yearly 100-mile race for African American drivers on a one-mile dirt track at the Indiana state fairgrounds. Throughout his life up to his death at the age of 82, Wiggins battled for equality in motor racing. 


RICHARD B. SPIKES: Not much is known about the personal life of Richard B. Spikes, but his contribution to automotive history makes the roads much safer today. An African American engineer, Spikes patented the technology for an automobile turning signal in 1913. Although legally blind later in life, Spikes went on to patent more inventions like the automobile safety brake in 1963 that was used in public school buses. He even invented the automatic car wash.  


GEORGE WASHINGTON CARVER: The world-famous botanist was born into slavery in Missouri. After establishing himself as a major figure in modern botany and biology, Carver became best known for his innovative work with the peanut and found numerous ways to utilize the plant. He even worked with Ford Motor Company in its early beginnings to create sustainable biofuel which furthered bio-energy research and made many contributions to bio-energy science. 


These innovative and influential figures not only helped blaze a trail for the modern automobile, but also helped shape the American character with their dedication, innovation, and hard work to make the automobile a viable part of American culture. At Adventure Subaru, we take that to heart and follow that tradition of dedication and hard work to our customers. Stop by Adventure Subaru in Fayetteville and let us assist you in buying your next vehicle. Hope to see you here soon!



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