Nikola Tesla and antique 1931 Piece Arrow.
Nikola Tesla and antique 1931 Piece Arrow.

Happy Birthday, Mr. Tesla

By Bill Moore

First published on July 11, 2011, this short story about the 20th century's greatest inventor and the legend of his 'free energy' Piece Arrow still continues to intrigue readers.

Since the launch of EV World in 1998, our most read story is the one about Nikola Tesla and his mysterious 1931 Piece Arrow. Entitled, Nikola Tesla's 'Black Magic' Touring Car, it's been viewed/downloaded almost 180,000 times since it first ran exactly five years ago today, July 11, 2011. In honor of that peerless inventor and visionary, we share that short article again.

Did Nikola Tesla's mysterious car run on free energy?

In the summer of 1931, Nikola Tesla, the inventor of alternating current and the holder of some 1200 other U.S. patents, along with his nephew Peter Savo, installed a box on the front seat of a brand new Pierce-Arrow touring car at the company factory in Buffalo, New York. The box is said to have been 24 inches long, 12 inches wide and 6 inches high. Out of it protruded a 1.8 meter long antenna and two ¼ inch metal rods. Inside the box was reputed to be some dozen vacuum tubes -- 70-L-7 type -- and other electrical parts. Two wire leads ran from the box to a newly-installed 40 inch long, 30 inch diameter AC motor that replaced the gasoline engine.

As the story goes, Tesla inserted the two metal rods and announced confidently, "We now have power" and then proceeded to drive the car for a week, "often at speeds of up to 90 mph." One account says the motor developed 1,800 rpm and got fairly hot when operating, requiring a cooling fan. The "converter" box is said to have generated enough electrical energy to also power the lights in a home.

The car is said to have ended up on a farm 20 miles outside of Buffalo, "not far from Niagra Falls."

So what was the power source? Some charged "black magic", while others remained naturally skeptical. Tesla is reputed to have removed the box and returned to his New York City laboratory without revealing how he did it, though the suspicion lingers to this day, on the 150th anniversary of his birth in Smiljan, Croatia on July 9/10, 1856, that he had somehow tapped into the earth's magnetic field or perhaps even more exotically, zero point energy or gravitation waves.

We will, of course, probably never know how he powered the car, or even if the event actually took place -- though we know Tesla was an unparalleled genius when it came to understanding electromagnetism and how to apply it for benign and some allege, deadly purposes. Legend has it that he actually invented a death ray of some type and this is why the government, on his death in 1943, is said to have confiscated all his personal papers. Presumably, they didn't want his research falling into the wrong hands… or was it because they didn't want the world to figure out how to propel our vehicles on free energy?

Is the story of the free energy 1931 Pierce-Arrow just another "urban legend"? I have no way of knowing, but it seems a fitting memorial to a mysterious man who transformed the world as we know it, providing millions with electricity and billions in profits for some of world's largest and most powerful multinational corporations.

Happy birthday, NIKOLA.

Nikola Tesla was born, legend has it, during a lightning storm on July 10, 1856.

Times Article Viewed: 7736
Originally published: 11 Jul 2016


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