James Hill Car

As a teenager, James Hill dreamed of a carriage that could travel over roads without the aid of a horse. One of the earliest automobiles, the Hill car was conceived in the mind of James F. Hill at the age of 13 in 1868. A mechanical genius and inventor, Mr. Hill built the car in Fleetwood several years later. Self-powered vehicle, initially fitted with a steam engine, it was later modified with a single-cylinder gasoline engine and finally with its present two-cylinder gasoline engine of Hill’s design. The car is now owned by Dr. Elaine Van den Bosch, Birdsboro and is on loan to the Boyertown Museum of Historic Automobiles. James Hill was granted U.S. Patent # 711,628.

The car was banned from the streets of Fleetwood because of the fear of such an unconventional vehicle. Since his engine was not powerful enough to negotiate the hills around Fleetwood, he built and installed the two-cylinder engine that drives it now. This opposed gasoline engine is built using the cylinders, crankshaft and flywheel from a steam engine. Note the hand-built appearance of the cooling system parts and the ignition system with dry cells.