Lambert days, ohio city
Lambert days, ohio city

John’s First Ride was in January 1891 in Ohio City, Ohio, then called Enterprise. He looks about 30 in this picture, the age he had his gasoline-powered three wheeled buggy up and running. He is with his family, his wife Minnie,  their son Alvin Ray and their daughter Ethel Mae.

John William Lambert

John William Lambert (January 29, 1860 – May 20, 1952) was an American automotive pioneer, inventor, and automobile manufacturer.

Lambert was born on January 29, 1860, in Champaign County, Ohio on a farm near Mechanicsburg, Ohio. He lived there until he was fifteen. His early boyhood education was in the local public schools of the county. When Lambert was sixteen he moved with his parents to Van Wert County, Ohio for a year. At this time he was interested in gasoline engines.

After Lambert was married he moved to Ohio City, Ohio, previously known as Enterprise, in Van Wert County, Ohio. There he formed J. W. Lambert and Company with his father as his partner. There he had an agricultural implement store, a grain elevator, and a lumber yard. They manufactured fork handles and spokes for wagons. Lambert also owned the town's opera house, town hall, jail and other town properties. Lambert always kept in the back of his mind the gas engine he saw in 1876. One day in the 1880s he heard of Karl Benz building an automobile in Germany and it rekindled his imagine to build a gasoline engine that would operate a "horseless carriage."

There was a great deal of secrecy surrounding the developments of Lambert's automobile. Operational tests were conducted with the window blinds pulled at the farm implement showroom where he ran it. Outside road tests were conducted at night on roads that were not used. That was a good thing since many times there were long intervals between being able to get the automobile started again after it stopped. It turned out that the villagers didn't even know what Lambert was working on since it was such a new concept. They didn't realize the significance of Lambert's horseless carriage. Lambert is said to have had the first automobile accident. One time when he was testing his "horseless carriage" at night in a secret run he drove his vehicle into a tree stump and ran into a hitching post.



Held about 600 patents in his career.

Patented a friction transmission which was a gearless transmission.

Patented his first gasoline engine in 1887, the first in the United States.

Lambert built America's first successful automobile in 1891 according to Antique Automobile and the Encyclopædia Britannica.

Registered his first patent in 1876 when he was sixteen. This was on a corn-planter that sowed 3 grains at once, hailed by farmers as the marvel of the day.