By on August 18, 2015


The fine brain trust at How a Car Works has a great idea: print out free high-res patents and frame them because all our money goes to cars and not decorations, obviously.

It got our motors running. What would we want to hang on the walls?

How a Car Works has the Willys Jeep patent available (here if you want to spend money on a print):

jeepA 1938 drawing of an internal combustion engine would do nicely:


Wankel’s rotary engine from 1958:


Ballamy’s differential gear from 1950:


Anything we missed?

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25 Comments on “What Automotive Patent Would You Hang on Your Wall?...”

  • avatar

    Curb feelers and speed knobs!

  • avatar


    What John Moses Browning hath created, let no man put asunder.

  • avatar

    Do you really need to ask this question? Why, US Patent 2,988,008 of course. Filed February 4th, 1957 by Felix Wankel. Published on June 13th, 1961.

    Yes, the original US patent for the rotary engine.

    Also, 2,988,065, the Curtiss Wright Patent.

  • avatar

    I don’t know about the patents but I’d love to have the blueprints hanging for 3 engines:

    1914 Cadillac L-Head V8

    1932 Ford Flathead V8

    1951 Chrysler FirePower V8

  • avatar

    Not the most exciting of patents, but as an adopted son of Dayton, Ohio, I’d have to go with U.S. Patent number 1,150,523. It’s for an electric starter motor, patented by native Charles Kettering. Gone were they days of having your wrist broken by a crank handle!

    Plus, unlike the Wankel, literally every car on the road within a few years adopted this technology, and it’s still used today.

    • 0 avatar

      I am with MarionCobretti and also guilty of having lived in Dayton (Delco Products, yeah!)…the electric starter…I was surprised to see somebody else call this out. I do think that it helped the automobile evolve from the “drive with your tools and mechanic” to something that could be enjoyed more spontaneously.

  • avatar
    I've got a Jaaaaag

    The ADC Museum has a copy of the patent for Popup headlight on the cord on a wall I would want that.

  • avatar

    Three valve head with the the third valve opening during the compression stroke and exhausting out the exhaust to lower exhaust temps and creating a psuedo atkinson cycle engine. It would have to be combine with direct injection of course, to inject after the extra valve closed.

  • avatar

    Id also want to hang the patent for nickle iron batteries so i can tout thier environmental superiority to lead acid…

  • avatar

    George B. Selden’s 1895 patent for a “road engine” (originally applied for in 1879). With this patent, Selden attempted to monopolize the entire fledgling US auto industry with required licensing and royalty payments. It took an upstart known as Henry Ford to have the patent declared invalid by the courts.

    • 0 avatar

      Yes, ol’ Henry was not known as a respecter of patents, and that mentality carried on with FoMoCo, ending up burning the inventor of the intermittent windshield wiper controller (who ‘won’ in the end, if you can call losing your family and wasting your life in court, winning).

  • avatar

    Design patents for Mercury Monterey Breezeways and Studebaker Starlight Coupes.

  • avatar


  • avatar

    The automotive drawing that i actually did hang on the wall of my office is a magnificent coloured cutaway of the Cosworth DFV engine, as a reminder of how much you can achieve with limited means if you do proper, no nonsense engineering. Duckworth was really ahead of it’s time on this one.

    • 0 avatar

      Yup. That engine was THE gamechanger, not just for racing. It formalized the narrow valve-angle twin overhead cam engine with pentroof combustion chambers. No more double cam covers a la Jag or Alfa engines. Have several decent cutaways and a book on it.

  • avatar

    Another one comes to mind…The legendary Offenhauser which dominated midget and indy for nearly 4 decades–A dohc 4 valve per cylinder supercharged 4 cylinder capable of putting out over 1,000 hp with a single casting for the engine block and head. I saw one at the museum of speed yesterday, it has special side ports to install the valves, the crank goes in the front…way ahead of the game in all respects of anything out there.

  • avatar

    The V-8-6-4.

  • avatar


    Next to a picture of Hank the Deuce

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Intermittent wipers, of course: (great movie)

  • avatar
    Shortest Circuit

    ’48 Tucker

  • avatar

    The patent for the electric parking brake – so I can throw darts at it!

    • 0 avatar

      You know, before last week I would have agreed with you. But then I bought a manual Jeep Renegade, and the execution of the electronic parking brake makes it a non-issue for me. Between the slope-detecting hill-holder function, the auto-engage when shutting off the engine, and auto-disengage if you start to slip the clutch while it’s on, I actually kind of like it.

  • avatar

    My own automotive patent:

    (At USPTO: )

    I’d also put my oilfield-related patent on the wall.

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