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The History of Cars

Updated on January 15, 2013

The Transportation Breakthrough

Have you ever wondered what the world would be if cars weren't invented? We would all probably be walking home from school or work. This world wouldn't be a modern, industrialized place for its citizens; this world would be a constant, tedious place with no room for new ideas and communication.

Good thing cars were invented, this invention is probably the most significant breakthrough towards innovation and more technology. However, the invention of automobiles did not happen in a single day nor it is invented by a single person; its history shows a worldwide evolution that changed the world.

Automobile Evolution
Automobile Evolution

The Long List of History

If we talk about automobile history, we sure have a lot to tackle. There are approximately about 100,000 patents who tried inventing the first mode of transportation. In 1769, the first steam-powered vehicle was invented by a French engineer and mechanic, Nicolas Joseph Cugnot. They made this steam-powered engine as a military tractor used by the French Army. It had to stop every fifteen minutes to generate steam power and was a very helpful technology during the war; this three-wheeled tractor was called the Cugnot Carriage.

Gurney Steam Coach

A famous surgeon, chemist, architect and inventor Sir Goldsworthy Gurney invented the Gurney Steam Coach in 1825; in fact, he made a number of steam-powered vehicles which were designed on the hopes of commercializing a steam road transport business - the Gurney Steam Carriage Company. However, Gurney's steam vehicles were not a commercial success since people of his time doubt the safety of his inventions. But this didn't stop him from creating more of his vehicles which he tried to make a lot safer for its passengers, still this articulated vehicle was reported to have exploded in the military barracks in Scotland which left two people severely injured.

The First Gas Motor Engine

First Motorcycle and the First Four-wheeled Automobile

Before Benz came into the scenario of automobile inventions, one man named Nicolas August Otto came up with the idea of developing a gas motor engine by using four-step internal combustion which he called the Otto cycle. The four steps include placing a gas or fuel in a cylinder, compressing, combusting and exhausting the gas. Then the first ever successful gas motor engine was born in the year 1876.

The technical director of Otto's company, Gottlieb Daimler became inspired by Nicolas Otto's idea of four stroke internal combustion. So he used the Otto cycle principle in designing a lighter-weight and faster automobile. In 1886, Daimler designed the world's first ever four-wheeled car. Daimler was also patented as the inventor of the first motorcycle which was run by the hot tube ignition system. His modifications of the Otto cycle and development of the hot tube ingition system made him known as the inventor of the first recognized modern gas engine. Daimler later on built his own automobile company called Daimler Motor Company.

Internal Combustion Engine

In 1807, several inventors created the first internal combustion engine. Nicephore Niepce invented the Pyreolophore which he chose to install in his boat in France, and Francois Isaac de Rivaz coincidentally designed his own combustion vehicle. This internal combustion-powered vehicle was far better than Cugnot's and Gurney's steam engines since it is more practical and a lot safer. Though neither inventions were very much successful, their genius engine was still designed to power today's vehicular engines.

Another vehicular experiment was conducted in 1881 by Gustave Trouve. He invented a three-wheeled electric vehicle which uses electric batteries to power his cars.

Although there have been hundreds of car inventors which covered the long list of automobile history, the modern vehicle breakthrough was credited to a German mechanical engineer, Karl Benz. He invented the first ever gasoline-powered engine in 1886 and through this invention, became a pioneering founder of the largest automobile manufacturer - the Mercedes-Benz.

Until then, mass production of vehicles mostly by an inventor, Oliver Evans, has been distributed and transported all over the globe which gave way for transportation and communication of nations to take place more easily.

Automobile History on YouTube

To know more about the history of cars, here are some videos about its history.

Today's Modern Cars

Vehicles have indeed evolved from steam-powered engines, electric vehicles, internal combustion-powered engine to the modernized gas-fueled vehicles. Today's cars ranged from famous sports cars such as Ferrari, Chevrolet, Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar, Lexus, and Porsche to the everyday cars such as Toyota, Suzuki, Ford, Volvo, Mitsubishi, Hyundai and many more car models. These are all product of the seemingly unending history of automobiles which involved a lot of genius minds and great works.

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    • askformore lm profile image

      askformore lm 4 years ago

      Great stuff on your lens. Thanks!

    • profile image

      itd_24 5 years ago

      I wouldn't mind one day to have an oldie. Thanks for this informative lens.

    • profile image

      tonyleather 5 years ago

      What an informative lens. Thanks a lot.

    • profile image

      pawpaw911 5 years ago

      Amazing how many changes there has been.

    • mojweb profile image

      mojweb 5 years ago

      What about future?

    • JanezKranjski profile image

      JanezKranjski 5 years ago

      From 1 horse carriages to 100 horse power (average) carriages in just few decades. What a history.

    • davidber profile image

      davidber 5 years ago

      I love cars and i love your lens ;)

    • papar lm profile image

      papar lm 5 years ago

      nice lens!