Changing Faces of The Car

A Carriage That Moves On Its Own
The dream a carriage that moved on its own was realized only in the 18th century when the first car rolled on the streets. Steam, petroleum gas, electricity or petrol (sold at the chemist's in the beginning) started being used for driving these funny car s that looked more or less like horseless carriages.

The Benz Vehicle (1886, Germany)
It is accorded the distinction of being the first gasoline-powered vehicle. This three-wheeler was the first car equipped with a differential gear and had a horizontal, four-cycle single-cylinder engine. The engine was mounted horizontally behind the seat, over the rear axle, in a frame-developed form prevailing tricycles. Its 0.9 horsepower was transmitted to the rear wheels via belt and chain, enabling a top speed of about 15 km/h. A lever connected to a rack-and-pinion controlled the lone front wheel, which steered the car.

Baker Electric (1899)
For a long period after gasoline-powered cars gained popularity, battery-powered cars continued to be made in the United States. The Baker was produced from 1899 to 1915. The unusual suspension of this car consisted of attaching the wheel shafts directly to the frame, on top of which was mounted a body on springs. The body carried the motor, which drove the rear wheels by a chain. A lever next to the driving seat controlled its speed. The Baker Electric was reputedly easy to drive, and could cruise a distance of 80 km when fully charged, reaching a top speed of 40 km/h.

Stanley Streamer
The steam car, Stanley Steamer continued production until 1927. It was quiet, had little vibration, produced sufficient torque, and was easy to handle. Under the bonnet of this car was a boiler, which provided the pressure to drive a two-cylinder engine located beneath the floor. Because of its abundant torque,

Stanley Streamer
the Stanley Steamer did not have a transmission-just one gear engaged the center of its crankshaft, and directly turned the rear wheels. Manipulating the Steamer's valves, which controlled the flow of fuel, water, and steam, must have required quite a bit of practice and knowledge. Although it could achieve a higher top speed than its gasoline-driven rivals, it was hard to start, especially in the cold weather.

Panhard et Levassor (1891 France)
Two French toolmakers Rene Panhard and Emile Levassor were the first to propose and commercialize a car having a layout and structure similar to today's cars. The Panhard et Levassor was the origin of the classic front engine, rear-wheel drive layout, the paradigm that transformed the horseless carriage into the car as we know it today. It positioned its transmission in line with the engine and clutch, and had a steering wheel instead of a tiller, and an in-line four-cylinder engine. The front engine gave the car a better balance and made it easier to steer.

Mercedes (1901)
The new Daimler model combined into one machine for the first time all the vital features of the modern car : a powerful four-cylinder engine, a pressed steel chassis, a honeycomb radiator, and a recognizably modern gear stick moving in a gate. The model was named Mercedes, after the daughter of an Austrian, Emily Jellinek, the Daimler representative in France.

Tin Lizzie or T Model (1907)
Henry Ford's model T, popularly called the Tin Lizzy, was the first everyman's car .It not only brought motoring to the masses but also was the first mass-produced car . As result, automobile ownership surged and car s became affordable for the ordinary wage earner as well. The Model T introduced various features to facilitate driving, and the transmission was integrated with the engine. Its planetary gears-two forward and one back-could be shifted without the use of a clutch.

In 1906, gasoline-powered car s were produced that had a style of their own. In these new models, a hood covered the front-mounted engine. Two kerosene or acetylene lamps mounted to the front served as headlights. Car s had fenders that covered the wheels and step-up platforms called running boards, which helped passengers get in and out of the car . The passenger compartment was behind the engine. Although drivers of horse-drawn vehicles usually sat on the right, automotive steering wheels were on the left in the United States

Improvements in engine-powered car s during the 1920s contributed to their popularity: synchronized-mesh transmissions for easier gear shifting; four-wheel hydraulic brake systems; improved carburetors; shatterproof glass; balloon tires; heaters; and mechanically operated windshield wipers.

The Morris and the Austin Seven (1922)
The bull-nosed Morris launched the family car in Britain. In the 1920s, this popular line could be bought for as little as $775, at $115 down and about $9 per week.

Also in 1922, the Austin Seven became the family runabouts. It had all the big car characteristics contained in a small design. The top speed was 45-50 mph, and averaged 40 miles on a gallon of gasoline. It was a front-engine, rear-drive model using 750cc four-cylinder side valve, 10.5-horsepower engine, and floor shift three-speed transmission. The handbrake stopped the front wheels while a more conventional foot pedal stopped the back ones.

The Volkswagen (1938)
The Volkswagen (German for the "people's car ") went on to rack up worldwide sales of more than 40 million. A horizontally opposed four-cylinder engine was designed for the power plant, with a total displacement of 996cc. When mounted in the rear and driving the rear wheels, this engine, with its low height, permitted the Volkswagen to have a streamlined, fastback shape. It was air cooled too and came to be loved all over the world as the beetle.

Aerodynamic Models
From 1930 to 1937, car engines and bodies became large and luxurious. Many 12- and 16-cylinder car s were built. Independent front suspension, which made the big car s more comfortable, appeared in 1933. Also introduced during the 1930s were stronger, more reliable braking systems, and higher compression engines, which developed more horsepower. Mercedes introduced the world's first diesel car in 1936. Cars on both sides of the Atlantic were styled with gracious proportions, long hoods, and pontoon-shaped fenders. Creative artistry merged with industrial design to produce appealing, aerodynamic car,s.

Some of the first car s to fully incorporate the fender into the bodywork came along just after World War II, but the majority of designs still had separate fenders with pontoon shapes holding headlight assemblies. During the 1940s, sealed-beam headlights, tubeless tires, and the automatic transmission were introduced.

Two schools of styling emerged in the 1950s, one on each side of the Atlantic. The Europeans continued to produce small, light car s weighing less than 1300 kg (2800 lb). European sports car s of that era featured hand-fashioned aluminum bodies over a steel chassis and framework.

In America, automobile designers borrowed features for their car s that were normally found on aircraft and ships, including tailfins and portholes. Cars were produced that had more space, more power, and smoother riding capability. Introduction of power steering and power brakes made bigger car s easier to handle. The Buick Motor Car Company, Olds Motor Vehicle Company (Oldsmobile), Cadillac Automobile Company, and Ford all built enormous car s, some weighing as much as 2495 kg (5500 lb).

Austin Mini (1959)
The Austin Mini was introduced in Britain. It became hugely popular. It was small enough to squeeze through city traffic, easy to park, cheap to run, yet big enough for four adults. Its success paved the way for a succession of small car s.

The Japanese Cars
In the 1950s and more years since the Japanese began producing cars domestically, Japanese automotive technology has made remarkable progress and come to be one of the international leaders. In 1980, Japan became the top automobile-producing country in the world.

Sports Cars
The various car races encouraged the automakers to view car racing as a sport resulting in the rapid development of automotive technology. As technological knowledge began to accumulate from car racing, various sports models appeared, allowing motorists to experience real driving pleasure.

Today, stepping into the twenty-first century, utilizing new materials, high-tech electronics, new power sources, and artificial intelligence, the type of car that automakers are capable of producing cannot even be imagined.

Austin Rover Maestro (1983)
The Austin Rover in Britain introduced the Maestro, with a talking dashboard designed to alert the driver to engine problems, the latest in the line of electronic systems added to car s since the 1960s.

Ford Probe IV
The Ford Probe IV prototype, perhaps the world's most aerodynamic four seater, is testing many revolutionary features that may well become the standard in tomorrow's car s. Among them is the use of computer-controlled pneumatic suspension.

Last Updated on 1/3/2012