This circular dashboard speedometer showcases numbers ranging from 0 to 80 with a movable white arrow before a black background. Ever since automobiles were invented, there has been a need to measure the speed of a traveling vehicle. In fact, ancient Roman charioteers marked their wheels and counted the rotations to gauge speed and distance. Around 1900, Warner Electric Company founder Arthur Warner transformed his cut-meter machine, built to measure the speed of industrial cutting tools, into an automobile must-have. By 1918, the Warner Instrument Company produced 9 out of every 10 speedometers on the road. Oldsmobile Curved Dash Runabouts were the first vehicles equipped with mechanical speedometers in 1901. For the next 75 years, speedometers steered clear of change until the 1976 Aston Martin Lagonda featured an electronic dashboard version. Now, carmakers are navigating towards digital readouts projected onto car windshields, allowing drivers to monitor their speed and surroundings at the same time.
This speedometer was donated by Northwestern Auto Supply, a local provider of parts for antique and classic cars, trucks, and tractors. Since Harry Ashendorf opened the supply store in Grand Rapids, Michigan in 1946, the business has become a top seller for antique vehicle parts.