A Window Into the Past

From Clessie Cummins to J. Irwin Miller, a look back at the early years of innovation at Cummins


Today, Cummins is recognized worldwide as a leader in the manufacture of diesel engines and related components. But that distinction would not have happened without the foresight and dedication of former president and CEO J. Irwin Miller.

During the early years of our Company, Clessie Cummins made the most of publicity - and his movie camera - by chronicling several milestones of his innovation. In celebration of our 90th Anniversary, we present Clessie in his own home movies, redone as 1930s newsreels.

 

Ride in Style With Clessie in the First Diesel Passenger Car

In 1935, Clessie Cummins set out to once again break down barriers once thought to be off-limits to the diesel engine. He had begun modifications on his Model A engine to make it lighter and more powerful. The engine would be placed into a car produced by the Auburn Automobile Company, creating the first ever diesel powered passenger car.



 

Clessie Takes a Chance at the Indianapolis 500

Clessie wanted to test out his new 2-stroke conversion engine he had been experimenting with, comparing it against the traditional 4-stroke conversion engine he had previously been working with. Instead of picking a testing ground, Clessie instead chose the 1934 Indianapolis 500 to test his two engines.




 

Board Our Co-Founder's Bus as He Goes Coast-to-Coast

Clessie wanted to establish Cummins in the fast-growing bus market. His idea was to perform the same stunt that launched Cummins’ successful inclusion in the trucking industry: a coast-to-coast run.




 

Cummins' Endurance Tested at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Clessie Cummins wanted to capitalize on the increase of attention being shown towards the diesel engine market. Clessie saw this as an opportunity to showcase their new Model H truck engine by staging an endurance test at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.




 

A Coast-to-Coast Ride With Cummins' Co-Founder

Clessie Cummins realized the potential for his company to grow by entering the trucking market. In order to stir up publicity, Clessie wanted to drive from New York City to Los Angeles while displaying the dependability and efficiency the Cummins diesel engine possessed. The Indiana Trucking Company provided the truck that would make the cross country endurance run.



 

Take a Trip Back to Daytona Beach in 1930 With Co-Founder Clessie Cummins

After learning that British automotive company Sunbeam was going to attempt to break the world speed record on the beaches of Daytona, Fla., Clessie drove his Packard Roadster, equipped with a Cummins Model U engine, down to the Sunshine state to try to drum up some free publicity. Clessie generated a buzz about dependable Cummins when he attempted to set the first official speed record for a diesel powered car in May.