Driving it

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Made in New Jersey
Automakers in the Garden State


[see large picture]

Car manufacturers—in New Jersey??? Actually, yes! Andrew Riker's company in Elizabethport (today Elizabeth) was one; he produced electric vehicles like this, adequate only for short trips on surfaced roads. From the time he went into business in 1899 until 1929, more than sixty automakers—some actual factories, others garages where mechanics attached engines to buggies—called New Jersey home. Most went out of business quickly; New Jersey produced mostly steam and electric cars, which were soon superseded by gasoline-powered vehicles. Plus, the market was limited for its pricey models. By the time the stock market crashed in 1929, all of the state's automakers were out of business, and the centers of automobile production had moved to the Midwest.

Photograph, Riker electric vehicle, about 1900
Collections of The New Jersey Historical Society
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