The rise of the automobile is a pretty thing in human history. It has been present in human lives for a little over a hundred years. The forefather of the modern car is widely considered to be created by Karl Benz. Karl Benz’s first car was named and patented as the Benz Patent-Motorwagen.
But cars became popular and started becoming part of the culture when Henry Ford introduced the Model T. This is when cars started replacing carriages as the primary mode of transportation. However, it wasn’t until the late 1930s that cars became a part of every modern household in America.
People would buy different models from different brands. Those who couldn’t be saved up so that they could. So you may be wondering now, How did it come to be as it is today? Well, don’t worry here we will be discussing points of the automobile history so that you understand how we came to where we are now.
The Automobile History Timeline:
Early History of Automobile Industry
One of the early records of a mechanical vehicle was a steam-powered Wheeled vehicle. This was created by a man called Ferdinand Verbiest. He was a member of a Jesuit mission in China. In 1672 he built this steam-powered vehicle for the Chinese emperor as a toy.
However, this model was pretty small as it could not even carry a driver. In 1770-71 a man named Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot showcased an experimental steam-driven artillery tractor. He called it his fardier à vapeur (“steam dray”).
The innovation for Cugnot’s design shifted to the neighbors across the English Channel. In 1784, William Murdoch developed a working model of the steam carriage. Within 1801 Richard Trevithick had a fully functioning vehicle on the road. As time passed the vehicles came into fashion for the aristocrats.
And with time innovations such as hand brakes, multi-speed transmissions, and better steering were added. Throughout the 19th century, there were many patents and innovations of steam-powered vehicles. But the predecessor of the modern car the Benz Patent-Motorwagen was patented in 1886.
Automobiles Throughout The 19th century
Since the first production model, automobile people have been going head over heels. By the late 1800s and early 1900s, automobiles were being sold by the thousands. Within the 1900s Western Europe was in a frenzy with France producing 30,204 units in 1903. This represented over 48% of the world’s production of automobiles that year.
In 1893 Charles and Frank Duryea founded the Duryea Motor Wagon Company which would become the first automobile manufacturing company in the US. Ramblers from the Thomas B. Jeffery Company became the best selling car when it sold 1500 cars.
Then came in Cadillac from the Henry Ford Company which sold in the thousands within a year. Within 1910 petrol/diesel engine automobiles became the standard for automobile engines which still exists today. The 20th Century can be broken down into a few different eras. The following will be a discussion about the different eras.
The Brass Era
The Brass era or the Edwardian era basically starts from 1905 to 1914 right before world war 1. From 1907 till 1912 high-wheel motor buggy dominated the market. Later on, they would be overtaken by the Ford Model T which is still one of the best selling cars of all time. While model T was the pioneer in introducing steel bodies in cars it would take another decade before steel become the standard for the industry.
Ford Model T, Morgan Runabout, Mercer Raceabout, and the Bugatti Type 13 can be listed as the best car of the era. With the model T being the most sold and widely available 4 seater car in the market. The Runabout was a cyclecar which was a trend of the time but would later die out. In 1910 the Raceabout came out and it was met with adoration and success.
It is considered to be one of the first sports cars in the automotive industry it captured the exuberance of the driving public at the time. While the Bugatti Type 13 was another sports car making the headlines in the fledgling industry at the time. It was a sports car with great performance and sleek bold design features.
The Vintage Era
This era started right after world war 1 and ended right when the great depression started in 1929. This is when the front-engined car came to prominence. The design feature of the era ushered in the closed-off body design and the standard controls became the norm. Within this era, Austin 7 came into the fray which became the template for companies like BMW and Nissan.
From 1924 to 1929 the Bugatti Type 35 dominated the racing circuit becoming one of the most successful sports cars to have been made. During its run, it amassed over 1000 victories setting records left and right. Ford introduced the Model A after riding for a long time on the success of the Model T. Model A was released in 1927.
The design was based on the prototype of the Soviet mass-production car the GAZ A. In 1930 Cadillac introduced its vintage luxury car the V-16. It is considered as the most famous luxury car from the vintage era along with the Bugatti Royal.
“Before WW-II” Era
So this era basically began with the great depression and ended after the war in 1946. This era is marked by the domination of cars with fenders and closed bodies. The era of the saloon car or sedans with rear storage came into prominence. The popularity of other cars meant that the runabouts, phaetons, and touring cars were gradually phased out of the market.
Slowly during this era manufacturers started integrating wings, running boards, and headlights. By the 30s almost all of the standard features of the modern car were integrated. Although these were later re-invented and accredited to another era and other people. 1932 the world was introduced to Alvis Speed 20 and Speed 25. This was the first car to feature the all-synchromesh gearbox.
In 1932 the world also got introduced to the powerful flathead V8 engine. The Ford V-8 (Model B) came into the market setting performance and efficiency standards for the market. In 1934 Citroën Traction Avant came into the market becoming the first front-wheel-drive car, built with a monocoque chassis. The MG T series came to the market in 1936. This was an affordable sports car appealing to the youth.
Then in 1938 came the iconic Volkswagen Beetle. This was an instant hit. With people buying the car worldwide. With efficiency and a unique design, it is a car with the longest production time. The production of the Volkswagen Bug lasted till 2003 with minimal change to its design. This car awarded a fourth place in the car of the century award echoing the future designs of the 21st century.
The Rolls-Royce Phantom III although first introduced to the world back in 1936 it was way ahead of its time. This car was the pinnacle of pre-war engineering. It came with a V-12 engine and technologies used in the car were so advanced that they would not be seen used until the 1960s.
The After War Era
After WW-II ended the automobile industry would completely be revolutionized. The course of automobile history would change forever. Cars like Soviet GAZ-M20 Pobeda (1946), British Standard Vanguard (1947) would be the first representation of the Ponton style. This is basically a car without a non-compact ledge element. In the year 1949, automobile production and design changed drastically. Cars had a different influence.
Cars had more of a military and war influence present in the design and features. This is a significant time in the history of American cars. 1949 was the year when GM, Cadillac, and Oldsmobile introduced the high-compression V8 engines and modern bodies that we are accustomed to. The UK market was completely subdued. However when the unibody/strut-suspended 1951 Ford Consul joined the 1948 Morris Minor and 1949 Rover P4 the market exploded.
In Italy however, Lancia introduced the world to the revolutionary V6-powered Aurelia and Enzo Ferrari started putting out his 250 series. 1946-47 saw the full adoption of the ponton design. GAZ-M20 Pobeda and the Standard Vanguard were the first ones to be mass-produced with this specific design aspect. 1953 saw the advent of the Chevrolet Bel Air and Cadillac Eldorado Brougham.
These cars were the first ones to introduce the golden epoch of American tailfin car design. 1959 the world first saw the MIni which became one of the most famous cars in the world. The world got to experience the phenomenon that is the Porsche 911 in 1963. A year later in 64 Ford unleashed the Mustang.
Which quickly became one of the world’s most sold and collected cars. In 1966 Fiat ushered in the age of mass “automobilisation”. An Italian car but it provided licenses to be made throughout Europe and other places. Even the Soviet Union got in on the act. 1967 GM’s response to Ford’s Mustang was the Chevrolet Camaro.
This car with its unique coke bottle design and power to match any took the world by storm. 1969 is when the Japanese Datsun 240Z broke into the North American market. The sports car was a smash hit in the US and it was the car that laid the foundation for future Japanese cars to dominate the market.
The Modern Automotive Scene
So basically the modern era is the time going back 25 years from the current time. You can basically describe the current time as a time where standardization of technologies increased, platform sharing started, and computer-aided design implementation. In the modern era the front- and all-wheel drive, the adoption of the diesel engine became standardized as did fuel injection technology.
While these are not new technologies but they have been adopted and dominate the market now. Back in the 60s those aforementioned technologies were considered radical development and were shunned by the market. The style aspect of cars has changed in this era as well. Nowadays the hatchback, sedan, and sport utility vehicles dominate the market.
While the designs did gain traction due to their practicality. Later on, the designs changed into things like high-powered luxury crossover SUV, sports wagon, two-volume Large MPVs. During recent years the market has changed more to trucks and SUVs as they dominate half of the entire market share. This trend is especially prevalent in the US.
Fuel efficiency as you know has become a big thing nowadays with consumers demanding efficiency more from cars they buy. After the recession in 2008, almost all the major companies suffered as their sales plummeted drastically. Within that time China has made itself the leading player in the automobile manufacturing market.
Since 2009 they have been producing more cars than the US, Japan, and all Europe. If you are talking about the modern era then you have to talk about the most sold car in the world. The Toyota Corolla. Introduced first back in 1966 the car has been performing with solid numbers ever since with it still being in the top 10 best selling cars of every year in the 2000s.
Land Rover introduced Range Rover, the world's first SUV in 1970 and it was so popular that they only introduced the new model in 1994. The Mercedes-Benz S-Class was released 73 and it quickly established itself as a class apart. It featured many different aspects and had electronic features that would later be the standard for the modern car.
Toyota introduced the world to the Prius back in 1997. This is a hybrid car and since its release, it has become the best selling hybrid in the world. Tata introduced the world to an in-expensive vehicle called the Tata Nano. Launched back in 2008 the car only cost a little over 2000 dollars.
In that year Tesla revealed the Tesla Roadster. This was the first all-electric car of this era and it took the world by storm. In 2010, Nissan Leaf became the first mass-produced plug-in all-electric car in Japan. And the innovations are still ongoing.
The Automotive Future
From the late 1700s till now the automotive landscape has been constantly changing and its changes have become faster and faster as time passed. A lot of time has passed since the first mass-produced automobile hit the roads. A whole new branch of industry emerged alongside the automobile industry; like the auto parts industry. Nowadays you can buy your aftermarket auto accessories from your nearest auto parts store or order it online.
The automobile history of the world shows how far human innovation has developed transportation and communication. And as you can see here we have come a long way from the first automobile in history.
The development that came was an accumulative effort of the industry as a whole and it will be the same in the future. Companies are already trying and moving on to autonomous driving. This technology will eliminate the need for drivers hence eliminating human errors. Thus making the road safe for everyone.
Google (Waymo) and Tesla are some of the companies which already some sort of working prototype on the road of technology. There are other innovations going on as well. From fuel to seating capacities the possibilities are almost endless and as you can see the future of the automobile is bright. And with that, the whole automotive industry like the aftermarket car body parts are booming.
So there you go, that’s all I had to say about the automobile history of the world. Please let us know in the comments below how you liked our take on automotive history. We appreciate your take on every matter which is why we look to you for suggestions.
Send us your thoughts and suggestions on how you want us to proceed in the future. With that being said I will bid adieu.
Until next time, Adios!