"Get a horse!" the crowd taunted.
The year was 1902. Two teenage girls, frightened and caked with dust, were taking their first ride in an automobile.
Author William Pelfrey recalls the moment in Billy, Alfred, and General Motors. The car was a long-forgotten French brand: Panhard. It was loud, and it sputtered as it chugged along a dirt road in Flint, Mich.
One of the girls taking that joy ride was Margery Durant, whose millionaire father was the nation's most successful seller of carriages — and no fan of the horseless variety.
William Crapo Durant scolded his daughter, who had taken the ride without his knowledge. In his view, automobiles "were noisy, dangerous contraptions that disturbed tranquility and frightened horses," wrote biographer Lawrence R. Gustin.
Yet, six years later, in 1908, Durant founded what would become the world's largest automaker.
Durant's journey from pessimist to industry patriarch boils down to one thing, said Gustin, author of Billy Durant: Creator of General Motors.
"He wasn't a car guy, but the self-seller — something that can sell itself — was a big thing to him. He saw this as something that he could sell," said Gustin.
That self-seller was a vehicle that hit the roads in 1904. Its name: Buick.