Birth of Automobiles

Horses had dreams of them since time immemorial, but it was only in the 18th century that the first horseless carriage actually hit the roads. That's not to say that the idea never struck anyone. Seeds of the idea, in fact, originated long before the first contraption was rolled.

The History of the automobile actually began about 4,000 years ago when the first wheel was used for transportation in India. Several Italians recorded designs for wind-driven cars. The first was Guido da Vigevano in 1335. It was a windmill-type drive to gears and thus to wheels. Vaturio designed a similar car that was also never built. Later Leonardo da Vinci designed clockwork-driven tricycle with tiller steering and a differential mechanism between the rear wheels.

In the early 15th century, the Portuguese arrived in China and the interaction of the two cultures led to a variety of new technologies, including the creation of a wheel that turned under its own power. By the 1600s, small steam-powered engine models were developed, but it was another century before a full-sized engine-powered automobile was created.

A Catholic priest named Father Ferdinan Verbiest is credited to have built a steam-powered car for the Chinese Emperor Chien Lung in about 1678. There is no information about the automobile , only the event. Since James Watt didn't invent the steam engine until 1705, we can guess that this was possibly a model automobile powered by a mechanism like Hero's steam engine-a spinning wheel with jets on the periphery.

Although by the mid-15th century the idea of a self-propelled automobile had been put into practice with the development of experimental car is powered by means of springs, clockworks, and the wind, Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot of France is considered to have built the first true automobile in 1769. Designed by Cugnot and constructed by M. Brezin, it is also the first automobile to move under its own power for which there is a record. Cugnot's three-wheeled steam-powered automobile carried four persons and was meant to move artillery pieces. It had a top speed of a little more than 3.2 km/h (2 mph) and had to stop every 20 minutes to build up a fresh head of steam.

Evans was the first American who obtained a patent for "a self-propelled carriage." He, in fact, attempted to create a two-in-one combination of a steam wagon and a flat-bottomed boat, which didn't receive any attention in those days. During the 1830's, the steam car had made great advances. But stiff competition from railway companies and crude legislations in Britain forced the poor steam automobile gradually out of use on roads. The early steam-powered automobile s were so heavy that they were only practical on a perfectly flat surface as strong as iron. A road thus made out of iron rails became the norm for the next hundred and twenty-five years. The automobile s got bigger and heavier and more powerful and as such they were eventually capable of pulling a train of many car s filled with freight and passengers.

Carl Benz and Gotttlieb Daimler, both Germans, share the credit of changing the transport habits of the world, for their efforts laid the foundation of the great motor industry as we know it today. First, Carl Benz invented the petrol engine in 1885 and a year later Daimler made a car driven by motor of his own design and the rest is History.

Daimler's engine proved to be a great success mainly because of its less weight that could deliver 1000 rpm and needed only very small and light vehicles to carry them.

France too had joined the motoring scenario by 1890 when two Frenchmen Panhard and Levassor began producing automobile s powered by Daimler engine, and Daimler himself, possessed by the automobile spirit, went on adding new features to his engine. He built the first V-Twin engine with a glowing platinum tube to explode the cylinder gas-the very earliest form of sparking plug. The engines were positioned under the seat in most of the Daimler as well as Benz car s. However, the French duo of Panhard and Levassor made a revolutionary contribution when they mounted the engine in the front of the car under a 'bonnet'.

Charles Duryea built a car carriage in America with petrol engine in 1892, followed by Elwood Haynes in 1894, thus paving the way for motor car s in that country.

For many years after the introduction of automobile s, three kinds of power sources were in common use: steam engines, gasoline or petrol engines, and electrical motors. In 1900, over 2,300 automobile s were registered in New York, Boston, Massachusetts, and Chicago. Of these, 1,170 were steam car s, 800 were electric car s, and only 400 were gasoline car s.

In ten years from the invention of the petrol engine, the motor car had evolved itself into amazing designs and shapes. By 1898, there were 50 automobile -manufacturing companies in the United States, a number that rose to 241 by 1908. In that year, Henry Ford revolutionized the manufacture of automobile s with his assembly-line style of production and brought out the Model T, a car that was inexpensive, versatile, and easy to maintain. The introduction of the Model T transformed the automobile from a plaything of the rich to an item that even people of modest income could afford; by the late 1920s the car was commonplace in modern industrial nations.

Herbert Austin and William Morris, two different car makers, introduced mass production methods of assembly in the UK, thus paving the way for a revolution in the automobile industry. Austin Seven was the world's first practical four-seater 'baby car ' which brought the pleasures of motoring to many thousands of people who could not buy a larger, more expensive car . Even the 'bull-nose' Morris with front mounted engine became the well-loved model and one of the most popular car s in the 1920s.

Automobile manufacturers in the 1930s and 1940s refined and improved on the principles of Ford and other pioneers. car s were generally large, and many were still extremely expensive and luxurious; many of the most collectible car s date from this time. The increased affluence of the United States after World War II led to the development of large, petrol-consuming car s, while most companies in Europe made smaller, more fuel-efficient car s. Since the mid-1970s, the rising cost of fuel has increased the demand for these smaller car s, many of which have been produced in Japan as well as in Europe and the United States.

The History of motor car s has surely been a well-traversed one. The automobile , as it progressed, was a product of many hands, of revolutionary concepts, and of simple, almost unnoticed upgrading. In the end, the one who received the most for these challenges and changes was the motorist, whose interest, money, and enthusiasm have forced the auto-moguls to upgrade, perfect, and add to previous achievements in order to stay in the competition.

Last Updated on 1/3/2012