When we think of the first car, many of us think of The Flintstones – we have to remember that was a cartoon though. The car wasn’t invented until 1886. So how did cavemen get around? The good-ole fashioned way… on their feet. The next generation was lucky enough to ride horses, then the bicycle came along, then the steam-powered locomotive, and finally the car. But it wasn’t the car as we know it today.
Karl Benz is considered to have built and patented the first proper automobile, in 1886–the aptly named, three-wheeled Patent-Motorwagen. Through the end of the century, inventors would experiment with vehicles powered by other means: diesel, electric, even steam. By the beginning of the 20th century, the automobile was changing the landscape of cities and cultures around the world. With their Oldsmobile and Model T machines, Ransom Olds and Henry Ford made the car a ubiquitous part of American life.
World War II reconfigured the auto industry, shaking out minor players and turning the major companies into manufacturers for the military for a time. The symbol of the era was the Jeep, the go-anywhere machine that came home from war with its rugged image intact, making it a grandfather of today’s SUVs. As the world pulled out of the post-war era, cars flourished with fantastic Jet Age designs that gave way to a new generation of compact cars heavily influenced by the VW Beetle, Germany’s “people’s car.” The Beetle made small cars relevant in America–and without it, there would be no Corolla, no Civic, no Focus.
The SUV really was invented in the 1930s with the first four-wheel-drive Chevy Suburban wagon, but it came into its own in the 1990s with the launch of the Ford Explorer and the Jeep Grand Cherokee, two top sellers that forever changed the idea of what a family car could be. As the SUV replaced the wagon, the pickup truck also became an alternative to the car. Trucks dominated the sales charts in the first decade of this century. Already the best-selling vehicle in America for decades, the Ford F-150 posted its best-ever year in 2004 with nearly a million sales–and Chevy, Dodge, and GMC weren’t far behind. At the same time, greener vehicles were gaining fans, thanks to rising gas prices. The Toyota Prius became the first mass-production hybrid car in 1998.
What is in store for the future of the vehicle? We’ll leave that up to the manufacturers and their imaginations.
Visit http://www.thecarconnection.com/news/1091185_a-quick-history-of-the-automobile#src=10065 for more about The History Of The Automobile.
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