Automotive Showplace

The Automotive Showplace is a rotating exhibit space at the Detroit Historical Museum that features rare and unique vehicles from the Detroit Historical Society’s collection, presented by Warner Norcross & Judd.

NOW OPEN in the Automotive Showplace at the entrance of America’s Motor City

1913 Bi-Autogo

Designer and artist James Scripps Booth set out to create an experimental, two-wheeled vehicle—and he did. He did not develop this vehicle for general sale, but intended it to be shown as a machine at the automobile show in New York in 1912. While it wasn’t finished in time for the show, it was completed by 1913 and immediately caught the attention of veteran automobilists everywhere.

The Bi-Autogo was the first Detroit vehicle built with a V-8 engine and was a cross between an automobile and a motorcycle, branding it as the world’s first Motorcycle-Car. The weight of the engine and frame made it necessary to attach side wheels for balance. The smaller wheels are retractable but could only be raised manually. The large front wheel and front-end design also made it difficult to steer the vehicle, so Mr. Booth decided that a re-design was necessary.

Although orders were coming in from all over the world, the Motorcycle-Car was abandoned and James Scripps Booth moved on to designing more conventional cars and cyclecars.

• Engine: V-8, the first built in Detroit
• Weight: 3,200 lbs.
• Horsepower: 45
• Cost (then) to build: $25,000

Thank you to Mobsteel for their recent restoration of this vehicle.

Supported  by the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs, the National Endowment for the Arts and MotorCities National Heritage Area.