History of FWD

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Excerpt from:
History of the FWD Company

Story by Albert Mroz, Menlo Park, California

Photos by Don Chew, Fred Perkins, and Albert Mroz

It’s hard to drive down the road today without being surrounded by four wheel drive SUVs. But most of those SUV owners would be very surprised to discover that four-wheel-drive was invented nearly 100 years ago. Ottow Zachow and his brother-in-law, William Besserdich made automotive history in their Clintonville, Wisconsin, machine shop when they created a practical four-wheel-drive axle for motor vehicles. It was the first double-Y universal-joint encased in a drop-forged ball and socket, which they patented in 1908.

After a successful test drive of their first vehicle, nicknamed “The Battleship,” Joe Cotton, editor of the Clintonville Tribune, predicted: “If the recently patented drive lives up to expectations, it will revolutionize the automobile business and place the inventors, Zachow and Besserdich, on easy street.”

Of course, things were not that simple. Zachow and Besserdich’s new car building venture was first named the Badger Four Wheel Drive Auto Company...

For the whole story, subscribe to Old Time Trucks® and read the Jun04/Jul04 2004 issue.


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