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The First Automobile Locks

The history of the automobile began long before 1900 but in those times there was undoubtedly little concern for locking them. It was not until they became commercially viable that some thought of preventing unauthorized use was formed. And because electric companies were already involved through their supplying of magnetos and switches, it was only natural that it was they who provided one of the first means for locking the ever increasing population of automobiles.

Competition for Lock Primacy

By the early teens many other ideas for locking cars were expounded. Locks were designed for gas lines, manifolds, transmissions, foot pedals, wheels, hand control levers, and steering wheels. While many of these were aftermarket locks, they were all competing as the means for locking the car and all belong in our history of automobile locks.

The Ignition Lock Emerges Supreme

The ignition lock was not an immediate success however, because most could be easily defeated. It wasn't until the mid 1930s, under pressure from Underwriters Laboratories, that it finally proved its worth and all of the other types of locks were sent to the automobile graveyard.

Locks for Antique American Cars

general body styles 1903 to 1908
The drawings above represent the evolution of body styles from 1903 to 1908. Closed bodies did not become popular for another 10 or 12 years, negating the requirement for door locks. (Drawings from The Principles of Automobile Body Design, Kingston Forbes, M. E., 1922)