Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Benson Automobile

The Benson Automobile was the first automobile built in the state of Oregon. Garage Inventor Nils Benson and his teenage assistant James Chance started working on the car in 1904. Benson ordered some parts and made others at his machine shop on SE Grand Avenue in Portland. The rubber tires were shipped from Indochina.

The Benson Automobile was displayed at the 1905 Lewis & Clark Centennial Exposition in Portland and operated there for 3 months. Later, Benson added a crankshaft and 2 more cylinders for a total of 4 before the automobile was considered finished in 1906. Though he originally planned to build more, this was the only automobile Benson ever built.

The Benson automobile ended up being stored in a shed behind Benson's home on NE 92nd Place. It was sold to neighbor William McAllister in 1951 and then to Walter Rusk in 1973. Rusk restored to automobile in 1973-74 and donated it to the Oregon Historical Society in 1999. Today, the Benson automobile is on display at the Oregon Historical Society's Museum in Portland.

(Photography is not permitted at the OHS museum, but I took these before I was told about the rule. I am posting them so that no one else will be tempted to break the rules.)


  1. I just wanted to say thank you to the Used Car Dept. for working with us on the price of the used CRV. I would never buy a car or anything from someone who operates in this fashion and neither should you. There are a lot of other dealers who will at least give you a price over the phone so you'll know you aren't wasting your time. thanks for sharing a great post.
    International Trucks

  2. Sweet looking vehicle, these really old ones look better than the sports cars so many guys crave.
    Worlds biggest truck

  3. Thank you so much for sharing my Uncle Walter Rusk's Benson. His nephew and I divorced in 1998 so I never knew what happened to this vehicle and always hoped that it would be placed where others could enjoy it.
    Thanks again!


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