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30 Miles per Gallon in 1914

by Nancy DeWitt

I can't help but chuckle whenever I read an article about improving fuel economy in today's cars. America not only had electric cars on the roads more than 100 years ago, but a number of the early internal-combustion cars got better gas mileage than many modern cars. These included the cyclecars and one of America's first 'compact' cars, the Grant. The 1914 Grant roadster weighed 930 lbs., could reach a top speed of 50 mph with its little 12 hp engine, and achieved an impressive 30 mpg.

The Grant was made by the Grant Motor Company from 1913 to 1922. They advertised it as the first high-grade motorcar to be sold under $500. The Grant combined the light weight and low cost of cyclecars with the quality, durability, comfort and wide tread of standard automobiles. The bull-nosed radiator was designed to provide additional cooling for the 4-cylinder inine L-head engine (95 cid).

The Grant's dash was notable for its complete absence of instruments, leading one passenger to note, “One could certainly enjoy the scenery, as there were no instruments to watch.”

Only 3,000 Grants were made in 1914, and very few Grants survive today. You can read more about their history here.


Willy and Charlie had our little 1914 Grant roadster in the shop recently. Willy said "It's a small car that needed big work." The magneto had been destroyed by poor worksmanship by the car's previous mechanic, so that had to be rebuilt. The cylinders were worn and glazed, so the engine also had to be rebuilt. Finally, after servicing the fuel system, Charlie cranked the engine and away we went. Nice of the guys to do all that work so I could take a ride around Wedgewood Resort!

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