Clyde Osborn will never be listed among the titans of the automobile industry. Rather, he is one of the countless indefatigable American optimists who had a dream to build an automobile and then acted upon it.
His dream was the Electriquette, a two-passenger, battery-run electric car that was built for the event. With a body entirely made of wicker, it looked like a lounge chair on wheels. Rides cost a dollar apiece, and the battery ran eight hours before needing a boost.
A San Diego attorney who owned the Fritchie electric car dealership in town, Osborn produced about 200 Electriquettes that did everything that was asked of them. After the event he abandoned electric car manufacturing and returning to lawyering.
However, the Electriquettes were not forgotten. They were even featured in a silent film from the Keystone Film Company, starring Fatty Arbuckle (see below or on YouTube).
They were one of the most popular attractions of the Panama-California Exposition in Balboa Park but after the event ended they disappeared. No one knows what happened to them.
- electric cart with two batteries
- averaged eight hours per charge
- hand lever across the lap of the driver for steering.
- normal speed: three miles per hour
- brake drum on the rear wheel operated by either a hand brake or an emergency foot brake
- complete chair weighed 525 lbs
- seat 38 inches wide, seating two or three persons
In 2012, Sandor Shapery began the project to bring brand new Electriquettes back to San Diego. A prototype based on the original design went on display at the San Diego History Center in November of 2012. Permission was sought to open up rental kiosks in the park starting in 2014 and going beyond the 2015 celebration of the Exposition. This was delayed, but finally did begin in 2016.