Riker Car & Riker Truck


  • Andrew Lawrence Riker was an early designer of automobiles -- aptly called "horseless carriages."  He was born at New York City on October 22, 1868, the son of William J. and Charlotte L. Riker. He sketched a never-to-be-built electric-powered three wheeler in 1884. In 1887 he added electric power to an English Coventry Tricycle, and in 1888-89 he founded the Riker Electric Vehicle Company (located in Elizabethport, NJ), soon to become one of the country's largest manufacturers of electric cars and (later) trucks. Riker produced his first electric car in 1894, using a pair of Remington bicycles as a base.

About 54 United States manufacturers turned out almost 35,000 electric automobiles between 1896 and 1915 -- the period of their greatest popularity. The Columbia, the Baker, and the Riker were among the more famous makes.

     Riker_DemiCoach.jpg (39360 bytes) 

The advertisements shown here appeared in such prestigious magazines of the day as Harper's Magazine (above) and McClure's Magazine (below).  The publication running the "Ride in a Riker" ad is unknown.  The three vehicles pictured are the Riker Electric Demi-Coach, the Riker Electric Victoria, and the Riker Electric Phaeton.

                 Riker_Electric1.jpg (71815 bytes)         Riker_Electric2.jpg (48721 bytes) 

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  • Officials of a rival automobile manufacturer, the Locomobile company, soon decided to explore the use of a gasoline engine for power, and in January 1902 they turned to the young inventive genius, Andrew Lawrence Riker, who proceeded to design and build Locomobile's first gasoline car. In the summer of 1902, under Riker's direction, Locomobile began building autos powered by two- and four-cylinder internal combustion engines. Of course, designing motor vehicles was nothing new to Riker who, at the age of 14, had constructed his first electric motor vehicle in the basement of his family's home in New York City.

By WWI, Riker/Locomobile trucks were popular with industry and looked like this:

          Riker_Truck3.jpg (26039 bytes)        Riker_Truck1.jpg (23915 bytes)
The ads shown above appeared in the Oct. 19, 1918 issue of Scientific American and the Sept. 7, 1918 issue of The Literary Digest, respectively.   The dual-image ad shown below appeared in the Sept. 7, 1918 issue of The Saturday Evening Post.

      Riker_Truck2a.jpg (81042 bytes)             Riker_Truck2b.jpg (73633 bytes)

A few Locomobiles are still owned by individuals. Illustrator Peter Helck, known particularly for his paintings of car races, owns "Old 16", whose victory in 1908 is one of the artist's most famous works. The Riker family has a 1917 two-seat Gunboat Roadster, which Andrew Lawrence Riker, Jr., son of the engineer who designed the first gasoline Locomobile and
"Old 16," bought in 1966.

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  • Additional information (incl. pictures) on early electric- and gasoline-powered automobiles may be found at the following websites (click the blue link to go there):






[This page was last updated 10/29/03]