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INFORMATION VINE * The Incredible History of Automobiles *.

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INFORMATION VINE * The Incredible History of Automobiles *. Empty INFORMATION VINE * The Incredible History of Automobiles *.

Post by Paul Thu 18 Jan 2024, 6:04 am

The Incredible History of Automobiles






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Photo Courtesy: [MECHANICAL TECH HINDI/YouTube]
Since the conception of the automobile, companies have continuously improved on the concepts year after year. Lots of different engines and methods have been used to see which method would be superior to the rest. Even to this day, manufacturers are still improving and innovating in this space. I think it's safe to say this will be a forever ongoing race to the top. Scroll through this gallery and check out this incredible history of how cars came to be and the ups and downs of getting to where we are now. 





Animals were the Primal Engine


First and foremost, let’s not forget about where the whole vehicle regime came about. It all started with horses, camels, dogs, sheep, and who knows what else. Before any four-wheel automobile, it was all up to whatever animal met the needs of the humans, in terms of speed and strength to carry both gear and people. 


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Photo Courtesy: [Israel_photo_gallery Wikimedia Commons]


However, the lifestyle of thousand-year-old humans was a lot different than now, they tended to stay put and travel very little. When they needed to carry things, they’d drag them or float them across the rivers. Until of course, they realized the human ability to tame the animals. 


The Travois


Around 5000 BCE, humans were commonly using horses to travel from one place to another. The Native Americans then took their canny sled and attached it to the back of the horses (or other animals) for them to drag it. This sled-like tool was a wooden A-shaped frame with two poles and a basket-like platform covered with animal skin or some kind of fabric to resist the weight of their gear. 


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Photo Courtesy: [BiblioArchives/Wikimedia Commons]


There were no wheels at this point but surely this one idea was the stepping ground for more to unravel. Plus, despite many other innovations in the following years, this travois was still an ongoing thing in the 19th century. 


Wheels


During the 3500 BCE, records suspect that the wheel first originated from a tree. As the story goes, a homo-sapien had cut a tree bark in the shape of a circle (somewhat) and poked a hole through the center, it was originally used for pottery, not transportation. The first wheels were a lot more square-shaped, solid, thicker, and harder to maneuver. 


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Photo Courtesy: [See U in History/YouTube]


With time, the prehistoric humans began carving thinner wheels and numerous wooden spokes. Mesopotamians also realized the axle, which helped magnify the push-pull of the wheel. The first vehicle wheels were used in carts, chariots, and four-wheeled carts of the gods. 


Roads and Tracks


You can drive without a track surely, but not everywhere. When the wheels were conceptualized, there were no roads for them. It makes sense it would be the other way around, roads first, wheels second, but nope. 


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Photo Courtesy: [GNU Free Documentation/Wikimedia Commons]


The open fields and deserts were a lot easier to handle wheeled engines but not so much in the forests and scrubs. The Romans caught on somewhere around 300 BCE and began building a massive highway network with a solid platform of tight-fitting rocks and a draining system beneath the base. 


Roman Chariot


The Roman Chariot was probably the first recognized vehicle of history. It was a two-wheel vehicle with half of it being dragged by four horses. Between 100 BCE and 476 CE, the chariot had many uses. 


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Photo Courtesy: [Neil Carey/Wikimedia Commons]


They were the military’s primary weapon, with two men carried on top, one as a driver and the other as the fighter with a bow and arrow. The Roman chariots were also used for hunting and sporting contests. With spoked wheels and four horses, the chariot weighed a lot less and could run a lot faster (speed of 40 mph). 


The Wind Chariot


In 1335, Guido Avon Vigevano, Italian physician and inventor had sketched out the first-ever automobile to move on its own. Powered by the wind itself, this vehicle would not have required any human or animal intervention. The Wind Chariot was sketched on a manuscript for King Philip VI. This manuscript presented ideas on how to conquer the Holy Land. 


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Photo Courtesy: [Universal History Archive/Getty Images]


The intent of this chariot was to build and arouse fear in the Muslims (the Crusader’s rivals) in battle, coming at them with something that was out of their norm, something that was able to move independently. The Wind Chariot was never put into motion, but Vigevano does deserve recognition for putting a clear idea on paper. 


Leonardo Da Vinci


It seems that there were a few men who sketched out the very first automobiles and Leonardo Da Vinci was one of them. Yes, Da Vinci, the painter, sketched out his theatrical vehicle back in 1478 more or less. It was a three-wheel open vehicle run by coiled springs, intended to run like a clock. 


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Photo Courtesy: [art-leonardo.ru/Wikimedia Commons]


The vehicle included breaks and steering, with the breaks being able to be released from a distance. With the drawing being so intricate and defined, the sketch was studied by engineers and experts up until the 20th century. His sketch became a leading inspiration for a few of the automobiles like the Mars Rover. 


Ferdinand Verbiest


Verbiest was born in Belgium and had a wide and most successful education of various subjects. He was ordained as Priest in 1655 and left on a mission to China. In 1672, Ferdinand Verbiest, a then-Jesuit missionary in China, designed the first-ever cart that was powered by steam. 


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Photo Courtesy: [Unknown author/Wikimedia Commons]


This wasn’t intended for passengers at all, it was more of entertainment for the emperor. The steam-powered automobiles that would be able to transport people and take on more weight would come much later in the 1800s. 


Thomas Newcomen


Thomas Newcomen was an English inventor who discovered the fuel-burning engine. In 1712, Newcomen built a machine that pumped water out of coal mines. A metal cylinder with a piston placed inside, that worked similar to a bicycle’s plunger pump to derive and impart motion. 


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Photo Courtesy: [Print Collector/Getty Images]


He used a coal-fire kettle (boiler) that would squirt steam into the cylinder beneath the piston and then cold water would be squirted to condense the steam, this way it created a vacuum motion. Utilizing the air pressure generated, the piston would slowly move down and up to suck the rainwater from the mines. This invention would be much more expanded by James Watt. 


Steam Engines


At the time, steam engines were unsuitable for vehicles due to being big, thick, and heavy. They were also known as fire engines and they were of the essence to the automobile revolution. Steam engines are powered by coal, mostly organic, accessible, and an inexpensive form of fuel. 


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Photo Courtesy: [Tamorlan/Wikimedia Commons]


The steam engine was highly beneficial to the Industrial Revolution. It helped provide many factories and machines with power without the need to be close to water sources. It was cheap yet it supported the production of commodities in larger amounts. 


Christiaan Huygens


Christiaan Huygens was a Dutch scientist, mathematician, and inventor. He invented the pendulum clock, discovered the wave theory of light, invented a musical keyboard, and more. Around the 1680s, Huygens designed an internal combustion engine that was powered by gunpowder to start the vehicle and keep it running (also known as an explosion engine). 


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Photo Courtesy: [Caspar Netscher/Wikimedia Commons]


Engineering was not advanced enough for this gun-power-tube. Huygens never built the engine but he was the inspiration for those who brought it to life later in the 19th century. 


Steam Engine Developed


James Watt was a Scottish inventor, chemist, and mechanical engineer. He was known for his contribution to Newcomen’s idea, Watt finished what Newcomen started. Around 1764, Watt developed a rotary motion and expanded the engine's capacity to be powered by more than just water. 


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Photo Courtesy: [Carl Frederik von Breda/Wikimedia Commons]


The original steam worked in an up and down motion while Watt’s newer design had gears and wheels, smaller and more systematic. This steam engine replaced the muscle-power-driven vehicles/machines and became the main power force during the Industrial Revolution. 


Coal is The Future


Coal (from carbon) forms through dead plants that get buried under rocks that are compressed and then cooked right up by the heat of the Earth. Coal was formed over a period of thousands of years. 


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Photo Courtesy: [snty-tact/Wikimedia Commons]


Because coal contained (still does) a lot less energy than fossil fuels like gasoline and diesel, it required double or triple the amount (of coal) for steam engines to burn and produce the power needed. The beneficial aspect of coal was that its fuel was provided at the base of the moment. There was no “storing” or “overproducing” more of what was required. It was generated on demand. 


Three-Wheeled Vehicle


Nicolas Joseph Cugnot was a French inventor. In 1769 Cugnot designed and built the first self-propelled vehicle called “Fardier a Vapeur.” The vehicle consisted of three-wheels, it had a speed of 3 mph (the speed of a walk) and it was even required to stop every 10 minutes for steam power buildup. 


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Photo Courtesy: [Joe deSousa/Wikimedia Commons]


The three-wheeled tractor was meant to haul heavy army cannons and though it seemed to not pose any harm, it was the first vehicle to crash. The tractor was also hard to steer and maneuver, but it was the first vehicle fueled by the famous steam engine. 


William Murdoch


Murdoch invented an improved version of the steam carriage in 1784. He worked for Watt and Boulton as an engineer. Murdoch’s work was overpowered by the company he worked for and was most likely not officially credited for much of what did succeed in the company. 


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Photo Courtesy: [public domain/Wikimedia Commons]


He spent hours working on steam engines and putting new ideas on the table. He invented the “sun and planet gear,” a method of continuous circular motion around an axis to propel the wheel’s motion (both on machines and vehicles). William Murdoch was also said to be the first one who lit his house and office through a coal gas piped system. 


Richard Trevithick


British inventor, Richard Trevithick set out to improve the low-pressure steam engine that James Watt had redesigned. Trevithick designed high-pressure steam, whether it was safe... probably not entirely. In 1801, he created his first high-pressure steam vehicle called the Puffing Devil. It seemed capable with the ability to carry multiple passengers, however, one day it overheated and caught fire. 


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Photo Courtesy: [John Linnell/Wikimedia Commons]


Trevithick then came with the first locomotive to be driven on a track in 1804. This vehicle was also too heavy and it broke its own rails within three trips. Trevithick’s ideas may not have worked at the time, but he knew that a fully equipped vehicle was possible. He was one of the primal pioneers of fully built steam-engine vehicles on both rail and road transportation. Around the same time, Oliver Evans was on the same wavelength, having built his steam-powered vehicle that was able to be driven on both land and water. 


First automobile patent in the US


Oliver Evans set out to explore the high-pressure engines to create a smaller, more compact, and efficient engine. He concluded that if high steam pressure was applied to the piston directly, it would help the size reduction and the practicality of the engine. Evans had set out to build steam carriages to be conducted on public roads in 1786 but did not proceed due to lack of financial support. 


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Photo Courtesy: [William G. Jackman/Wikimedia Commons]


In 1789, the first automobile patent was granted to Evans. Commissioned by the Philadelphia Board of Health, Evans designed and built the Oruktor Amphibolos, a steam-powered wagon in 1804. Because there was no patent protection at the time, he wasn’t paid for other people using his ideas. It’s suspected that over 80 inventions that followed (by other men) had been conceived from his own previous achievements. 


The Phaeton


Back in the 1800s and 1900s, the Phaeton was a four-wheeled carriage with a suspension under the carriage to avoid the bumpy rides. It also had a platform/dashboard that protected passengers from any mud and rocks by the horse's kickback. With a speed of 10 mph, it was mostly for comfort rather than speed. 


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Photo Courtesy: [Samuel Uhrdin/Wikimedia Commons]


There were numerous Phaetons that were modified through time, serving specific people and roads. Most were enclosed and with a hood in the driver’s seat up front. A more popular Phaeton came to fruition in the late 1900s called the Body Phaeton (a modernized version of the original Phaeton), built as an open vehicle, without any fixed weather protection. 


Hydrogen Fuel Cell


In 1806, Francois Issac de Rivaz designed a vehicle with an internal combustion engine powered by oxygen and hydrogen. The difference between an electric-battery powered vehicle and the hydrogen fuel cell vehicle is that in this instance the chemicals are used to propel a reaction to generate electricity which is then sent to the motor. While the electrical battery car works by charging the battery.


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Photo Courtesy: [Donut Media/YouTube]


With battery cars only providing 120-400 kilometers lasting range, the hydrogen-powered cars would surpass by lasting 350-600 kilometers with a full tank. There were various men who expanded on the hydrogen fuel cell in the mid-1800s such as Samuel Brown and Christian Friedrich Schonbein. 


Battery Electric Car


Anyos Jedlik was a Hungarian inventor. In 1827 Jedlik had first designed an electromagnetic rotating motor that held all components of a DC motor, and he didn’t know what to do with this newly built piece that he simply built a car model for it. He later came out with a dynamo. 


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Photo Courtesy: [Károly Rusz/Wikimedia Commons]


The electric motor and dynamo were the basic components to power an electric car. There was still much to be incorporated, but this was another stepping ground for the automobile and engine era. Later in 1859, Gaston Plante came out with a lead-acid battery, the first rechargeable battery of its kind. 


Joseph Etienne Lenoir


Belgian engineer Etienne Lenoir was patented for inventing the internal combustion engine in 1860. By now, you should know that there were various men at the time on the same wavelength and were building and expanding on similar ideas, so there is no “one automobile creator,” but each man taking upon each other's successes and failures. 


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Photo Courtesy: [Unknown author/Wikimedia Commons]


Etienne Lenoir was very successful in his venture, he used coal as fuel and even made sure to have the combustion happen inside a compartment (hiding the bulkiness of all the other components). He invented the “spark plug," a method of pushing the piston that would cause the gas to explode. With 1.5 horsepower, they were soon manufactured and sold by the dozens. In 1863, he tested his first fixed car, it drove nine miles in 11 hours. I would have rather walked instead. 


Locomotive Act 1865


With automobiles flourishing (some more than others), the Locomotive Act was a way to have some control over the public highways in the UK. Because there were various speedy vehicles, the Act consisted of a man on foot waving a red flag with a blowing horn to permit and hold the passage of vehicles on public roads. 


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Photo Courtesy: [DK Speaks/YouTube]


This marked a halt to the road auto development industry at the time until sometime in the 19th century. Engineers and inventors shifted their focus to railway locomotives instead. 


Four-stroke Gasoline Engine


Nikolaus Otto was a traveling grocery salesman and a self-taught engineer. In 1861, Otto was tinkering away with different fuel-powered engines. At the time, there was a lot of experimentation on which fuel was best for automobiles. Gas, though a cleaner version than coal, was considered to be more dangerous. 


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Photo Courtesy: [Todd Lappin /Flickr]


By 1876, Otto realized that gasoline (liquid fuel) was his better bet and built a more efficient engine powered by gasoline. The four-stroke (four steps) engine was born, fuel injection, the ignition, the expansion, and lastly, the exhaust. The four strokes have become the most common automobile combustion engine. 


Karl Benz


German engineer, Karl Benz is one of the most recognized for his work, including his wife Bertha. In 1885, after studying Otto’s work, Karl built the first practical car powered by gas. It didn’t get much recognition until his wife Bertha set out on a 65-mile trip with her two young boys (without Karl knowing). 


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Photo Courtesy: [Unknown author/Wikimedia Commons]


She had to stop along the way to make minor fixes, get gas at the drugstore, and even had to be pushed uphill by her sons. The word got out and Benz received major publicity after that. He then added gears for uphill driving. He became the leading car builder and manufacturer by the start of the 20th century. 


First Motorbike


After a fallout with Otto, Gottlieb Daimler and Wilhelm Maybach started their own firm. Around 1889, they experimented with the Grandfather Clock, a large upright gasoline engine, and soon after transformed it into a wooden bicycle, then a motorbike. They were considered the prime inventors of the first motorbike. 


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Photo Courtesy: [Mark Reilly /Wikimedia Commons]


However, Enrico Bernardi (from Italy), filed for a patent of his one-cylinder petrol motor that he attached to his son’s tricycle. This made him one of the first to be officially credited for the first motorcycle. In 1892, Bernardi expanded the motorbike/tricycle to carry two people. 


Gottlieb Daimler and Wilhelm Maybach 


Gottlieb Daimler and Wilhelm Maybach were granted the patent of one of the high-speed internal combustion engines. They were the first to truly change the route of the automobile industry with a high-speed petrol engine. 


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Photo Courtesy: [DaimlerChrysler AG /Wikimedia Commons]


Daimler and Benz were first rivals, until the 1920s. Benz and Daimler joined forces and founded Daimler-Benz and continued selling cars under Mercedes-Benz. The car Mercedes was in honor of the daughter of Emil Jellinek, who offered a mass production of the famous car if it would carry the name Mercedes instead of Daimler. 


Rudolf Diesel


Rudolf Diesel spent his time reading and studying the works of Otto and Carnot. Diesel realized his potential in being able to build something much better than Benz and Daimler. Somewhere in the early 1890s, Diesel materialized his most wild vision, an engine with twice as much power as a steam engine and the freedom of being powered by any fuel, whether gasoline or peanut oil. 


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Photo Courtesy: [Unknown author/Wikimedia Commons]


He was way ahead of his time. With no coal required to power the engine, it lightened the economic load for train transportation and shipping companies. Diesel would become the pioneer of biofuels, but he didn’t live long enough to see its success. 


First Electric Car


Electric cars have been around since the early 1800s, but a practical and most renowned electric car was built by German inventor, Andreas Flocken in 1888, called the Flocken Eltrowagen. Countries were on an electric-Carroll in 1864, Thomas Parker created the first electric car, then came Andreas in Germany, then in 2000 William Morrison in America. 


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Photo Courtesy: [Franz Haag /wikimediacommons.com]


Anyos Jedlik had paved the way for these men to put it into action. Andreas’ car was a 900-pound vehicle that could drive nine miles per hour. This was somewhat a success but they relied on Asia to supply them with battery cells, which were not highly functional at the time either. 


Car Tires


First came the experimentation of rubber, the discovery of the vulcanization process, and then the car tires. Charles Goodyear was an American self-taught chemist. He was convinced he could somehow use rubber to create useful objects and make a fortune out of it. He was thrown in jail due to his debts, but he continued to work with rubber even in his jail cell. 


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Photo Courtesy: [Southworth & Hawes/Wikimedia Commons]


It was when he accidentally dropped a piece of rubber on a hot stove that he discovered the vulcanization process. The rough/tough rubber used in tires today is made through the cooking process now known as the vulcanization process. He received the patent for vulcanized rubber in 1844. 


First American Automobile Manufacturing Company 


In 1893, Duryea Motor Wagon Company became the first automobile manufacturing company in America. It all started with Charles and Frank Duryea (brothers) when they first tested the gasoline-powered automobile they had built. Before their success, they were bicycle builders at Ames Manufacturing in 1891. 


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Photo Courtesy: [AutomaticStrikeout/Wikimedia Commons]


In their free time, they would go to a machine plant (that had been shut down) where they were able to work on their inventions. Their original intent was to modify a Daimler design but ended up with a free-piston engine and a horizontal flywheel at the front. With time, investors, and determination, the Duryea Motor Wagon became the first advertised and mass-produced vehicle in the U.S. Ford was one of many who were left astonished and inspired by this masterpiece. 


Cadillac


In 1902, Cadillac was founded by Henry Leland. The name was in honor of Detroit’s founder Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac. Leland started out with a motor he had developed for the Old’s Motor Vehicle Company, knowing Cadillac had the potential to become the most feasible company, Leland talked to Ford’s board of directors. In 1903, the Cadillac motor was showcased in Ford’s body at the New York Auto Show. 


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Photo Courtesy: [Joanne Pistorius/Wikimedia Commons]


Sales skyrocketed from that day and with over 1,000 orders, Cadillac formed its own Cadillac Motor Car Company by 1905. The company was then sold to General Motors by 1909. Cadillac was a major contributor in the automobile industry; some of them were the production of fully enclosed cars in 1906, the first to offer lighting in cars, and the first to develop an all-steel roof in 1935. 


The Brass Era (Edwardian era)


The Brass Era between 1905 and 1914 was a period where cars’ fittings were widely made from brass, a metal mix of copper and zinc. During this time, the high wheel motor buggy was most prominent. 


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Photo Courtesy: [ModelTMitch/Wikimedia Commons]


The path of internal combustion engine vehicles was not set in stone just yet and so steam and electric automobiles continued to be manufactured in this era along with gas-engine vehicles. There were a few cars that became highly popular at this time: Model T by Ford, the most produced four-seater car, Morgan Runabout’s cyclecar, Mercer Raceabout’s sports car, and Bugatti Type 13, a racing model. 


E-M-F 30


The E-M-F vehicle was conceived by Barney Everitt, William Metzger, Walter Flanders, and William Kelly, during the Brass period in 1908 and also ended before the era. With a 106 inch wheelbase, 30-hp four-cylinder flathead, and a three-speed sliding-gear transaxle, the E-M-F 30 was a huge hit. 


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Photo Courtesy: [Lars-Göran Lindgren Sweden/Wikimedia Commons]


It was a tad bit pricier than the Ford but it was more powerful. With a sale of 8,000 cars by 1909, they could’ve kept increasing but three of the founders left Flanders on his own in 1909. Studebaker took control in 1912 and E-M-F came to an end. 


Ford's Quadricycle


Ford must have been left traumatized as a young boy having been thrown from the saddle of a colt, and so he dedicated himself to inventing the best automobiles. In 1896, Henry Ford built his first vehicle in his shed, a Quadricycle runabout. 


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Photo Courtesy: [Unknown author/Wikimedia Commons]


It was quite a simple two-cylinder engine vehicle, made with an angle iron frame, a leather-belt transmission, and a buggy seat. He added water jackets to the cylinders because it would heat up quite quickly. He then sold it for $200 and used the money to build his next vehicle. 


Henry Ford


Henry Ford was first inspired by a steam-powered tractor. He was inspired to be one of the pioneers of engine-powered vehicles. Ford realized that cars were extremely expensive, so he set out to build and produce not only inexpensive vehicles but durable and efficient. 


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Photo Courtesy: [Hartsook, photographer/Wikimedia Commons]


He understood and thrived in machinery as a boy and he wasn’t afraid to fail. Twelve years with eight different models until he got it right. In 1908, he had finally designed and produced a car that anyone could afford, the Model T. 


Model T


In 1908, Ford came out with his massive hit, the Model T. In just one color, simple, practical, and durable. With a speed of 45 mph and 20 horsepower gasoline engines, the Model T became one of the very first mass production cars of the century. 


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Photo Courtesy: [Jnarrin/Wikimedia Commons]


Model T was a universal car and continued up into the 1930s, even after WWII when antiques had become a trend. It was reliable and useful, the car served a family for numerous years. Instead of raising the prices over time, Ford dropped the prices; the launching price was $850 and by 1925 it was $250. The Model T crashed the market. 


The First Mass Produced Car


Normally things get more expensive over time, but Ford's pint-sized miracle car, the Model T, dropped in price from $850 when it was launched in 1908 to just $250 in 1925. The secret was mass-production, making the car from simple, easy-to-fit parts in huge quantities. Other carmakers used small groups of mechanics to build entire cars very slowly. By 1913, Ford was building cars at his new Highland Park factory in a completely different way using a moving "assembly line."


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Photo Courtesy: [Paul Horn/Wikimedia Commons]


Model T's were gradually assembled on a conveyor that inched past a series of workers. Each mechanic was trained to do only one job and worked briefly on each car as it passed by. Then the vehicle moved on, someone else did another bit, and the whole car magically came together. The first year Ford used his assembly line, production of the Model T leaped from 82,000 to 189,000. By 1923, Ford's giant River Rouge factory was making 2 million cars a year. 


Ford’s “Fallout”


By 1919, Ford’s Model T was doing exceptionally well, however, Ford was battling with people who wanted to take over the company. He declined anyone who wanted to buy it. Ford wanted to be in absolute control of it all, yet he appointed his son Edsel as president of the company by 1920. Ford was still noted to be making the major decisions and undermining Edsel’s authority. 


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Photo Courtesy: [Trainguy1/Wikimedia Commons]


Ford was known as the world’s greatest industrialist, and despite people liking the Model T, there had been no changes implemented to it since its conception. Other cars were beginning to sell in the same way, cheap and durable, plus with a different model every year (like Chevrolet). By 1927, the Model T’s production had been put to an end. 


The Vintage Era


The Vintage Era from 1919 (just after WWI) to 1929 (through the Wall Street crash) came to be dominated by front-engine cars and standard shift cars. By 1919, 90% of automobiles were open and by 1929, 90% were enclosed, times were changing quite rapidly. 


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Photo Courtesy: [Jayeshkirti/Wikimedia Commons]


Some of the cars that were prominent during this time: the Austin Seven, the most copied car at the time, the Lancia Lambda, an advanced vehicle with independent suspension, the Ford Model A which was one of the best models of the era after keeping Model T in production for too long, and lastly Cadillac V-16, one of the most luxurious cars of the era. 


The Classic Era


Just before WWII, the Classic Era was a period through the Great Depression in 1930. This era was dominated by fully enclosed vehicles with fenders and even room for storage (trunk or boot at the rear). Goodbye to phaetons, touring cars, and open-top runabouts, hello to wings, headlights, and running boards. 


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Most of the technology used in the automobiles of this era had been invented already and/or somewhat re-adjusted and credited to another. Some of the most prominent automobiles of this era: the Alvis Speed 20 & 25, first synchromesh gearbox cars, the Volkswagen Beetle, low priced and efficient, and the Tatra 77 with an aerodynamic design. 


The Volkswagen Beetle


The iconic Volkswagen Beetle made history in 1938. The Beetle was shipped from Germany to England in 1945. British motor manufacturers inspected the car and concluded that it wouldn’t attract many motorcar buyers. But with the help of Austrian designer Erwin Komeda and engineer Ferdinand Porsche, the Beetle became the top-selling car in history. It sold over 20 million vehicles across the globe, surpassing Ford’s mass production. 


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Photo Courtesy: [Lothar Spurzem/Wikimedia Commons]


Over 60 years of production, the car only had slight adjustments made. Interestingly enough, the Beetle was commissioned by Hitler, intended for a German family of five to drive out on the autobahns. Germans were offered the car on a savings plan but they were left stranded as the war broke out before the Beetle could’ve been finished. The military Beetle came to be the hipster’s dream car. The last production of the Beetle was in Mexico in 2003. 


Robot Car-Maker


In 1961, General Motors conceptualized a car-wielding robot called Unimate. An industrial robot created by George Devol, an American inventor working for General Motors in Ewing Township, New Jersey. 


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Photo Courtesy: [Robot Guru/YouTube]


With a four-thousand-pound robotic arm, the machine was meant to transport heated die castings onto the auto bodies, this apparently was a dangerous job for humans so General Motors hired a robot to do the job. The robot is capable of following orders, to perform tasks that are deadly to the workers. The robot was made by the manufacturing company Unimation. 


Post War Era


The war was not very helpful to the production of cars or innovators, however, the Post War Era from 1946 to 1960 did bring about new light to the automotive revolution. Vehicle speed and engine power rose, changes to the ponton style and designs shifted as well. 


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Photo Courtesy: [Tocekas/Wikimedia Commons]


Perhaps the end of the war brought a sense of newness that companies were even marketing internationally. Some of the most prominent cars of the era: the GAZ M-20 Pobeda, the Morris Minor, the typical post-war car, and the Ford Mustang, the best seller pony car. 


The Modern Era


Automobiles have changed quite drastically over time, and the means of transportations keep expanding. There have been three main automobile body styles that have changed in the modern era: the hatchback, sedan, and sport utility vehicle. 


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Photo Courtesy: [IFCAR/Wikimedia Commons]


Automobile production and business have also changed, with exportation and importation from and to other countries. Trucks have also taken on more than half of the market. Some of the most prominent cars of the modern era to this day: Range Rover, a combination of both luxury and four-wheel drive practicality, the Chrysler minivans, the Toyota Prius, the Nissan Leaf, and Chevrolet Volt. 


Japan’s Cheap Scheme


America and Europe were the first to dominate the automobile industry all the way through the 1970s, leaving China and Japan behind. Until Japan decided to export cheap cars to the West. The U.S. and Britain both fought off the corruption but in the 1980s, Japan took a step further and infiltrated the country by exporting their entire factories to the U.S. 


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Photo Courtesy: [Mytho88/Wikimedia Commons]


Japanese upstart Honda became the first factory to open headquarters in the U.S. and Canada. Japan was known for taking one model and reinventing it. Their scheme was growing and working, they continue to be the greatest manufacturing empire to this day. 


Sugarcane Cars


In 1973, Brazil was hit by the oil crisis and the government decided to quickly shift to alternative fuel, sugarcane. Well, ethanol to be exact, which is then extracted from sugarcane. The entire crisis transformed into an environmental movement. Within only six years of the Brazilian government introducing the ethanol program, 90% of the new vehicles sold in Brazil could run on ethanol. 


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Photo Courtesy: [Paul R. Burley/Wikimedia Commons]


By 2008, one liter of ethanol cost half as much as a liter of gasoline. Brazil introduced an idea to help the economy and, in their eyes, began helping the environment as well. Perhaps this is where evolution is taking us all, to a plant-powered vehicle. 


Cooperating


Automobile inventors, manufacturers, and large companies were long-lasting competitors. But somehow one way or another, many were led to join forces and cooperate. Since new vehicles are economically difficult to design, manufacturers from different countries help one another to minimize the costs. 


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Photo Courtesy: [Brian Snelson/Wikimedia Commons]


For instance, there are cars (by different brands) that use the same exact materials, whether in Japan and/or France. There are also car plants that design cars for more than one manufacturer, one might deny this but hey, rivals do share. 


Self-driving cars


From gasoline-powered engines to self-driving cars- imagine that. Over the past decade, there have been more talks on the subject. Apple (the iPhone company) has mentioned that they are hoping to launch a self-driving passenger vehicle with new technology, lidar sensors that help see the road through three-dimensional perspective, and a unique battery called “mono cell” that won’t overheat of course. 


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Photo Courtesy: [Vauxford/Wikimedia Commons]


Tesla, being one of the leading automotive companies of the modern era, is also envisioning a future where cars are self-driven without any human intervention. This could be happening sometime in the next decade, time will tell. But note that Tesla already has self-driving vehicles being tested by beta testers, so this new innovation might just be sooner than expected. 


Hybrids


A hybrid vehicle is a mix of an internal combustion engine with a battery-powered option. Hybrids first launched in the late 1900s. Toyota Prius was the first mass-produced hybrid vehicle in 1997 (launched in Japan). There are Mild Hybrids that automatically slow down when going downhill or shut off when you come to a halt, then turn back on, on their own, but it cannot run entirely on battery power. 


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Photo Courtesy: [Robert Scoble/Flickr]


Series Hybrids are also known as power splits, and this type of hybrid uses the internal combustion engine to induce higher speeds when you’re carrying extra weight/load in the car. Plug-in Hybrids are able to be charged at electric-vehicle charging stations and can be powered entirely by the battery. Hybrid vehicles overall were another option for buyers to consider moving into a less gasoline-powered dominant engine. If you’ve got one foot in and one foot out, the hybrid is it. 


The Modern Electric Cars


Electric cars have been going for the past few decades, they’re older than gasoline vehicles! But let’s get something straight, electrical cars are being overshadowed by the self-driven vehicle innovators. Though self-driven cars are basically electrical. In 1996, the GM EV1 by General Motors was the first mass-produced modern electric car. 


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Photo Courtesy: [Mariordo/Wikimedia Commons]


Perhaps why electrical cars haven’t ruled the world entirely is because there would be more of an economic drop, considering the jobs that gasoline manufacturers provide for instance. The revolution has already started. It only requires more people to make the full transition.
Paul
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