Steinmetz Car drives into the spotlight

Publication Date

A College treasure is moving from the garage to the living room.

The top-of-the-line 1914 “Duplex Drive Brougham” Detroit Electric automobile that belonged to Charles Proteus Steinmetz will go on display in the first-floor corridor between Wold and Olin.

On Wednesday, April 9, at 12:50 p.m. (Common Hour) -- Steinmetz’ 149th birthday -- the College will hold a dedication ceremony for the exhibit. There will be a birthday cake and singing of “Happy Birthday” for the renowned electrical engineer and inventor who chaired Union’s Electrical Engineering Department.

The event will include remarks by President Stephen C. Ainlay and John Spinelli, the Horace E. Dodge III Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

“As the Steinmetz car turns 100, and on Steinmetz’ birthday, it is especially fitting that we bring the car to a permanent and central place on campus where it can be admired,” Spinelli said. “Besides being historically significant, the car is a reminder of Steinmetz’ legacy. As a strong advocate for community service and a liberal arts education, he would be pleased to see the College today.”

The College purchased the Steinmetz car in 1971 and restored it for use in campus ceremonies. It has been displayed at the Saratoga Auto Museum and the Edison Tech Center, but recently has been stored out of sight in off-campus garages.

Steinmetz (1865-1923) taught electrical engineering and applied physics at Union. Also chief consulting engineer for the General Electric Company, he was widely regarded as America’s leading electrical engineer.