Henry Ford's first vehicle

In 1879 Henry Ford left Dearborn, Michigan for the nearby city of Detroit to work as an apprentice machinist in a factory. After 3 years of this work, he returned to Dearborn where he had a variety of odd jobs repairing steam engines, working in factories and helping on the family farm. In 1891 Ford took a job as an engineer with the Edison Illuminating Company in Detroit. He quickly earned a promotion to Chief Engineer within 2 years. This lucrative position gave him the time and money to devote to his personal experiments with internal combustion engines. Ford began creating experimental gas engines as early as 1893.
After much experimentation and invention, Henry Ford drove his first motor vehicle out around the streets of Detroit, on the 4th of June 1896. It was the first 'horseless carriage' that he actually built. This was his "Quadricycle", which looked like a big pram and was powered by an engine with just two forward speeds and no reverse. It was steered with a tiller like a boat. 
The Quadricycle showed enough popularity and potential that it launched the beginning of Ford's business ventures. By the end of 1896 Ford had sold his first Quadricycle for $200 and used the money to build another one. With the financial backing of the Mayor of Detroit, William C. Maybury and other wealthy Detroiters, Ford formed the Detroit Automobile Company in 1899. He managed to build a few prototypes but no production cars were ever made by this company. The company was dissolved in January 1901. Forming Ford Motor Company, Ford, was determined to make a successful automobile but he would not offer a car for sale until 1903.

A significant difference between Ford's original model and the one on display in the museum is that the original did not run on a Briggs & Stratton engine, as shown in this photo. Ford's engine ran on ethanol.

1896 Ford Quadricycle