Man Uses Google Books to Build 1906 Car

Oliver Chiang of the Google eBooks support team reports that 51-year-old machinist Bob Ferry created his "new" 1906 Oldsmobile Model B Runabout by scanning through old mechanics-related magazines and publications stored on Google Books.

Based out of Louisville, Kentucky, Ferry runs a family-owned shop that builds industrial machinery. According to the Google blog, building "horseless carriages" has been his passion on the side for years. He's also an active member of an Internet group comprising of horseless carriage replica builders who share photos and ideas with each other.

Ferry claims he built his "antique" car from scratch using out-of-print, archived copies of Popular Science, Popular Mechanics, Horseless Age, Harper's gasoline engine book and other references. Originally he began the project using plans obtained from another replica car-builder, but decided to add "original qualities" that weren't listed in the specs. That said, he was directed to Google Books where he discovered and eventually downloaded old books and magazine to his iPad via the Google Books app.

"My car is powered by a 17-year-old Briggs & Stratton 12 HP engine and a hydrostatic transmission from a 15-20-year-old Craftsman riding mower," he said. "It is steered with a tiller arm (no steering wheel) and reaches a blazing top speed of about 6-7 miles per hour."

Ferry added that he plans to use Google Books again to build a 1902 De Dion Bouton French car, a 1920 Norton Racer Motorcycle and an Orient Buckboard sometime within the next few years. He's also studying early engine designs, and wants to build the De Dion Bouton French's engine from scratch using references found in Google's online library.

Despite the usefulness of virtual books, Ferry still professes his love for the old-school physical versions, the ones with breakable spines and paper pages to soil with coffee drips and chocolate chip muffin fingers. Still, ebooks are convenient and easy to locate when searching for "obscure and useful information."

Kevin started taking PCs apart in the 90s when Quake was on the way and his PC lacked the required components. Since then, he’s loved all things PC-related and cool gadgets ranging from the New Nintendo 3DS to Android tablets. He is currently a contributor at Digital Trends, writing about everything from computers to how-to content on Windows and Macs to reviews of the latest laptops from HP, Dell, Lenovo, and more. 

  • fayzaan
    well my car is powered by man!! MUAHAHAHAHA manpowers
  • lp231
    Be careful with that De Dion Bouton, it's said to cause broken wrist!
  • masterasia
  • valpanig
    Looking good for a 51 year old Mr. Ferry XD
  • virtualban
    Make me a car from scratch,

    but first invent the universe
  • MagicPants
    Yes the baby is cute, but why not show the picture of the car and the man who built it? Seems more relevant.
  • JohnnyLucky
    Very Kool!
  • mikem_90
    virtualbanMake me a car from scratch,but first invent the universe
  • hellwig
    Popular Mechanics is still around, has their legal team been notified?

    Imagine 100 years from now, when Disney is still trying to keep "Steamboat Willie" under copyright, and some future art student gets their ass sued-off when they dare to try to redraw some key frames for Disney's original short classic, using the Internet for a reference.

    This is why I like the idea of digitizing old books and magazines. Where else but a car museum would these old magazines even still exist? And even at the museum, I bet this guy couldn't have scanned through the pages or taken photographs for reference.
  • fir_ser
    I’m still waiting for Google to bring its book library service so I can virtually view any book in the library for a monthly subscription.