On December 29, 1908, the owners of a forge shop in Clintonville, Virginia, engineers Otto Zachow and Wilhelm Besserdich, were issued a patent for an innovative system that actuated the brake mechanisms on the wheels of both drive axles of the car.
In the early years of the 20th century, the braking system noticeably lagged behind the overall process of automobile evolution. The weight and speed of the cars increased, which often exceeded 100 km/h for conventional production models. But the brakes on all cars no longer corresponded to these realities. They still affected only the wheels of the rear axle and were clearly rather weak.
The designers wondered: how to increase braking efficiency? This could not be achieved by simply increasing the size of the brake mechanisms. Another solution was found: to equip not only the rear, but also the front wheels with brakes. In this case, the load was redistributed: part of it was now transferred to the front axle and, accordingly, the load on the rear axle decreased. As a result, the inhibitory effect increased.
It must be said that in addition to the brake drive system on all wheels, Zakhov and Besserdikh patented two more inventions: constant velocity joints (CV joints) and a number of other drive units for the front wheels of the car.
In 1910, Zakhov and Besserdikh founded the FWD company. It was an abbreviation for Four Wheel Drive. Here they built, in two copies, a model “B” truck, naturally with a 4×4 wheel arrangement. This model became the world’s first all-wheel drive truck with brakes on all wheels.
The car could carry 3.0 tons of cargo. Its layout was cabover; a 4-cylinder 5.6-liter Wisconsin engine with a power of 56 hp was installed under the front seat. With. The three-speed gearbox, with constant mesh gears, was made in one block with a transfer case and a center differential lock. Both drive axles were of a rigid type and suspended on longitudinal leaf springs.
It is unknown what the fate of this vehicle would have been if the US military had not become interested in it. There they appreciated the new product and helped the company build a plant to produce the car in 1913.
Officials were staring at it: soon, in 1914, the First World War broke out and such all-wheel drive trucks came into their own. The maximum speed was low – only 15 km/h, but the maneuverability and braking properties were excellent. In total, about 16 thousand FWD model B trucks were delivered to the British and American armies during the war.