Charles Duryea (1861-1938), American inventor and automobile manufacturer. Duryea and his brother, James Frank Duryea, built the first successful gasoline-powered American automobile.
Charles Edgar Duryea was born near Canton, Illinois. He graduated from the Gittings Seminary in La Harpe, Illinois, in 1882. Charles and Frank moved to Chicopee, Massachusetts, in the early 1890s to start a bicycle manufacturing business. The brothers also worked on designing motorized vehicles and built their first successful automobile in 1893.
The Duryea brothers built an improved automobile with a four-cycle engine in 1894. The next year in Chicago, this automobile won the first American automobile race, sponsored by the Chicago Times-Herald. Frank drove their automobile and Charles competed in the race with a German Benz automobile.
The Duryea brothers established the Duryea Motor Wagon Company in 1895. The company produced 13 cars in 1896 but was not profitable and dissolved in 1898. Frank designed another car, the Stevens-Duryea, and became a leader in the automotive industry. Charles organized the Duryea Power Company, which manufactured a three-cylinder car until 1914. He later became a consulting engineer.