History of Cars

The invention of the automobile is an evolution of ideas and actions, beginning with Leonardo da Vinci and Isaac Newton’s theoretical plans for a motor vehicle that led to the invention of the first self-propelled vehicle. The invention of the automobile changed American society by transforming a country of isolated communities into a single entity. The ultimate honor of the first motorized vehicle is attributed to Nicolas Joseph Cugnot, an engineer and mechanic in the French Military. In 1769, Cugnot made his first attempt to construct an automobile. He called it “Fardier a vapeur” and it reached a top speed of 4 km/h.

Even though his first attempt failed, he presented the world with a breakthrough in technology. Cugnot also has another title to his name: the first person ever to be involved in a motor vehicle accident in 1770. He crashed his second invention of the steam-powered tricycle, which could carry 4 passengers. In 1789, the American Oliver Evans was granted the first US patent for a steam-powered land vehicle thus introduced America to a new mode of transportation. In 1807, another breakthrough was brought about.

A Swiss man named Francois Isaac de Rivaz invented the internal combustion engine that used a mixture of hydrogen and oxygen for fuel. Because he only invented the engine, Rivaz had many people construct automobiles into which he could put the engine. This plan failed but it was the idea of the engine that stayed alive. A few decades later, a man named Jean Joseph Etienne Lenoir invented and patented a double-acting, electric spark-ignition, internal combustion engine fueled by gasoline.

With this, Lenior was able to successfully make a 55-mile road trip and people’s lives began to change. In 1876, Nikolaus August Otto invented a successful four-stroke engine called the Otto Cycle. With this new breakthrough, the race to invent the first modern automobile began in a hurry. Gottlieb Daimer and Wilhelm Maybach took Otto’s engine a step further and made what is recognized as the prototype of the modern gas engine. The two men named their creation the “Daimler-Maybech engine” which made Dailmer considered to be the first inventor of a practical combustion engine.

Karl Benz, in 1885, became the first to design and build the world’s first practical automobile to be powered by an internal combustion engine. By January 29th, 1886, Benz received the first patent for a gas-fuelled car (only three wheels). On March 8th 1886, Daimler designed the world’s first four-wheeled automobile. In 1889, Daimler invented a V slanted 2 cylinder, four stroke engine with mushroom shaped valves.

This became the standard model for all cars going forward. In America in the 1900’s, people were still relying on the electric automobiles. America’s first gasoline-powered commercial car manufacturers were brothers Charles and Frank Duryea (1893).

Together, these two introduced a working gasoline automobile that easily outdated the electric vehicles. The first automobile to be mass-produced in America was the 1901 Curved Dash Oldsmobile built by American Ransome Eli Olds. A total of 425 Curved Dashes were produced just in 1901. Oldsmobile therefore took the title of America’s leading auto manufacturer from 1901-1904. A man named Henry Ford designed his first automobile and named it “Quadricycle.” However, he had no real success with that invention.

When he formed the Ford Motor Company in 1903, which is where he found success. His Model T, in 1903, became increasingly popular making Ford and his company the most popular in America. Because of cars, cities in America grew and suburbs appeared for the first time. Factory workers no longer needed to live near their factory because the new means of transportation allowed them to commute across town. Cars completely replaced any other means of transportation in both efficiency and usefulness and brought America closer together.

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