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A Stanley Steamer racecar in 1903; in 1906, a similar Stanley Rocket set the world land speed record at 205.5 km/h (127.6 mi/h) at Daytona Beach Road Course.
The Brass Era is an American term for the early period of automotive manufacturing, named for the prominent brass fittings used during this time for such things as lights and radiators. It is generally considered to encompass 1896 through 1915, a time when these vehicles were often referred to as horseless carriages.
Elsewhere in the world, this period would be considered by antique car enthusiasts to consist of the veteran (pre-1904), and Edwardian eras, although these terms are really not meaningful outside the former British Empire.
Transmissions and throttle controls were widely adopted, allowing a variety of cruising speeds, though vehicles generally still had discrete speed settings, rather than the infinitely variable system familiar in cars of later eras. Safety glass also made its debut, patented by John Wood in England in 1905, but would not become standard equipment until 1926 on a Rickenbacker. Angle steel took over from armored wood as the frame material of choice, and in 1912, Hupp pioneered the use of all-steel bodies, joined in 1914 by Dodge.
Lists of North American manufacturers of this era
Frank Leslie's Popular Monthly 1904 list
In January, 1904, Frank Leslie's Popular Monthly magazine catalogued the entire range of automobiles available to the mass market in the United States. This list included:
I have already indicated how the early "craze" for horseless carriages caused automobile plants to spring up like mushroom growths all over the country, just as hundreds of locomotive plants had sprung up in the early days of railroading. In both instances, however, the great majority faded out of the picture once the industry had become firmly established. As late as 1917, there were 127 different makes of American automobiles on the market, as compared with little more than a dozen in 1947 [i.e. at the time of this writing]. For the sake of the completeness of the present record, and in order to aid future scholars and research workers, I should like to give the list of American automobiles current thirty years ago [i.e., 1917]: