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NICOLA TESLA'S AUTOMOBILE

In 1930, Tesla asked his nephew, Petar Savo, who was born in Yugoslavia in 1899, to come to New York. Petar was 43 years younger than his uncle. Up to that date he had lived under stringent conditions in Yugoslavia, Tesla's country of birth. During the summer of 1931, Tesla took his nephew to Buffalo to unveil and test a new automobile. Tesla had developed it with his own personal funds.

It was a Pierce Arrow, one of the luxury cars of the period. The engine had been removed, leaving the clutch, gearbox and transmission to the rear wheels undisturbed. The gasoline engine had been replaced with a round, completely enclosed electric motor of approximately 1m in length and 65cm in diameter, with a cooling fan in front. Reputedly, it has no distributor. Tesla was not willing to say who had manufactured the engine. It was possibly one of the divisions of Westinghouse.

The "energy receiver" (gravitational energy convertor) had been built by Tesla himself. The dimensions of the convertor housing were approximately 60 x 25 x 15cm. It was installed in front of the dashboard. Among other things, the convertor contained 12 vacuum tubes, of which three were of the 70-L-7 type. A heavy antenna approximately 1.8 metres long, came out of the convertor. This antenna apparently had the same function as that on the Moray convertor (see chapter on Radiant Energy). Furthermore, two thick rods protruded approximately 10cm from the convertor housing. Tesla pushed them in saying "Now we have power." The motor achieved a maximum of 1800rpm. Tesla said it was fairly hot when operating, and therefore a cooling fan was required. For the rest, he said there was enough power in the convertor to illuminate an entire house, besides running the car engine. The car was tested for a week, reaching a top speed of 90 miles per hour effortlessly. Its performance data were at least comparable to those of an automobile using gasoline. At a stop sign, a passerby remarked that there were no exhaust gasses coming from the exhaust pipe. Petar answered "We have no motor." The car was kept on a farm, perhaps 20 miles outside of Buffalo, not far from Niagara Falls.

A few months after this automobile test, and because of the economic crisis at the time, Pierce Arrow had to stop production. It is very likely that the interconnection between the electric motor and the transmission had been performed there. Pierce Arrow's tools were taken over by Studebaker, in South Bend. Not quite 30 years later, that company also vanished to form American Motors, jointly with Nash. Later, some of its fans attempted to resuscitate the Pierce Arrow. Unfortunately, they were not successful.

Thus, today that company's name is in a mausoleum, together with others, such as Horch, Maybach, Hispano-Suiza, Bugatti and Isotta Fraschini.

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