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Robert Whitehead / Whitehead & Co, Fiume - 1866 Robert Whitehead developed the first automobile or self-propelled torpedo whilst working as manager of the Fonderia Metalli situated in Fiume (Rijeka), today in Croatia. He thus introduced the world to a weapon that almost changed the course of history during both World Wars. In 1875, Whitehead formed the company Torpedo-Fabrik von Robert Whitehead – later Whitehead & Co. When Whitehead retired, the Whitehead family sold the company to Vickers and Armstrong-Whitworth in 1906.