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Even by World War I the motorcar was a thirsty contraption.

The 12 step program at “Gasoholics Anonymous” is for HOBBY DRINKERS compared to the SUV’s guzzlin’ greatgrandaddies.

It took Invercargill adventurer, sporting champ and serial inventor Ernest Godward to come up with the forerunner of today’s carburettor.
His  “Vaporiser” (née Economiser) used the heat of the engine to convert petrol to a vapour which then could be cleanly ignited in the cylinder.
it could be bolted after the existing carburettor in any vehicle.

By 1930 he was acknowledged as the world authority on the internal combustion engine and the US Military used his gadget on anything they could find, but by then he was mostly living in America.

Hmm, so was he a Kiwi born in Blighty or a patriotic Uncle Sam-ite? Wife and house and ten kids back in Invercargill confirmed him as a solid Southlander.
He was on his way home via Steamer, aged 67, when he expired after winning an onboard skipping competition!

His whole story’s a ripper, read more here:

But some interesting anectodes to note:

In 1913 he failed to sell his economiser to London’s bus barons
because they thought it mattered that he hadn’t been to Varsity!

Heading back to Kiwiland he fixed this by getting his boffin’s licence and had his success wooing the US Army.

However, the Vaporiser wasn’t his first success, nor the first with the Americans. For his wife he invented the spiral hairpin which made him today’s equivalent of several Million dollars.

The vice president of one of the companies that sold his hair-
pins in America was Samuel Clemens, aka. Mark Twain!

Godward also gave us a beater that could froth eggs in three and a half minutes instead of the usual fifteen.

BUT there were dozens more: invention was a lifelong habit. Son Bruce Godward said in Bob Riley’s Kiwi Ingenuity – A Book of New Zealand Ideas and Inventions, (no longer in print but a VERY good read!)

“I remember our garden tools were a totally different shape
from everybody else’s. Being young I thought it was
because we were more important!”

If quality of life is measured in good memories, kiwi inventiveness will take you a long way.


This episode marks the end of the competition on Kiwi Inventors. Vikram Modi from australianworldwidedesigns guessed all of the pictured inventors EXCEPT for Godward and will receive his caricature as default winner.

In coming days: the Thermette, Women’s Voting Rights and the Jet boat!




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