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Canada’s First Successful Internal Combustion Car Recreated, Put On Display

Ron Foss, the grandson of Geoge Foote Foss, has taken the wraps off a project that was years in the making. Together with partners, he has revealed the Fossmobile, a recreation of the car that first hit the roads in 1897.

Claimed to be Canada’s first successful internal combustion vehicle, the car was made by the elder Foss, who was a successful mechanic, blacksmith, and bicycle repairman in Sherbrooke, Quebec, about 155 km (96 miles) east of Montreal.

Foss first dreamed up the idea after a ride in an electric horseless carriage that left him unimpressed. He, therefore, took a gasoline-powered, single-cylinder engine that made four horsepower (2.9 kW/4 PS) and attached it to a four-wheel carriage. The Fossmobile was apparently capable of reaching blistering speeds of 24 km/h (15 mph), which was enough to get Foss in trouble.

Ron Foss told Global News in an interview in 2021 that his grandfather drove the car around hilly Sherbrooke for many years and even drove it to Montreal on two occasions, getting a ticket during one visit for driving on the sidewalk when the snowy roads hadn’t been plowed.

The recreation of the car was a passion project for the younger Ross, who partnered with various experts around Canada for this highly accurate recreation. The chassis was assembled by Legendary Motorcar Company in Milton, Ontario, an internationally renowned restoration shop.

The leaf springs, meanwhile, were made by Dendoff Springs Limited in Surrey, British Columbia, some of the body was made by Canadian Wood Craftsman in Chatsworth, Ontario, the cushions were hand-made by Custom Touch Upholstery, in Burlington, Ontario, and the period-correct tires were made by Wolfe Worx, of London, Ontario.

“My goal is to correctly inform Canadians of this achievement and largely untold story,” said Foss. “The automobile has become such an important part of worldwide society; it’s time that we celebrate the major role that Canada—and my grandfather—played in this process.”

The car was unveiled on April 27 at a Hagerty Garage + Social Toronto event. It was only there for a day, though, and will be shown around the country before eventually being donated to the Canadian Automotive Museum, in Oshawa, Ontario.


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