1917 Owen Magnetic

Designed by Justus B. Entz and first publicly shown at the 1914 New York Auto Show, the electro-magnetic transmission of the Owen Magnetic was a development that came long before its time. While it worked, and worked well, its concept was implemented far before engineering, electronics and materials were adequate to support it. The concept is disarmingly simple. The engine is connected to a generator built in unit with its flywheel. Electricity from the generator powers an electric motor attached to the driveshaft. With no direct connection between the engine's crankshaft and the car's driveshaft power transmission is smooth. Think of a modern diesel-electric railroad locomotive. The Owen's implementation added several supplemental functions including five separate settings akin to a selective shift transmission's gear ratios for power transfer between the engine/generator and the driveshaft and a bank of 24 volt batteries to conserve excess power and to start the engine through reversed electricity flow. Ingenious hardly begins to describe it. So does expensive. The least expensive 1917 Owen Magnetic was priced at $3,150, a price that would put a 1917 Owen buyer in a Packard Twin Six with money to spare. A precious few Owen Magnetics survive, one source claiming there are only four known. If that is accurate, now there are five with the discovery of this magnificently original old 1917 Owen Magnetic Model M-25 7-Passenger Touring Car. At some time in the past the bare minimum necessary to keep it usable has been done: old reupholstery and tires. Otherwise it has buffed through old paint (identifiable as green with black fenders) and the kind of old, used engine, chassis and driveline that is almost impossible to find today. It is a once in a lifetime find of a rare example of one of the most imaginative, creative, rare and unusual automobiles of the first decades of the automobile's history. Jay Leno's Garage has one. Now you can, too.

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