Collection Item Summary:
Curtiss was one of the most successful early American aircraft engine manufacturers. The first Curtiss engines were air cooled but, to achieve higher power, Curtiss began to develop liquid-cooled engines. Historical evidence suggests that this Model L artifact was one of two higher-performance engines built by Curtiss for his experimental monoplane that was shown, but not flown, at the 1910 Gordon Bennett Race held at Belmont Park, N.Y. Both engines were later assigned to Eugene Ely, a pilot for Curtiss, who used them in exhibition and demonstration flights. It is likely that one of those engines powered the aircraft which crashed in 1912 at Macon, Georgia, killing Ely.
Continued evolution of the Curtiss V-8 engine led to the OX-5, of which more than 10,000 were produced by the end of World War I in 1918. The U.S. government sold thousands of these to the public as surplus at a fraction of their original cost.