A Brief History of the Automobile

The history of the automobile begins with the advent of the steam powered engine, though for a variety of reasons it was never a successful means of serving as a personal means of transportation. Follow the creation of Richard Trevithick’s road carriage in 1801, the first of its kind that was actually successful, a number of inventors, both American and foreign, attempted to recreate Trevithick’s invention, often with disastrous results.

In the early to mid-1800s, a number of engineers improved upon the steam engine concept, creating automobiles that not only could travel long distances, but were operated at regular intervals within city limits. The government wasn’t too thrilled with this, thinking that personal automotive transports would impact those whose lives depended on horses, implemented tolls on the roads. This, combined with the invention of the railway, ended the proliferation of the “steam carriage” and thus freeing up the roads until the bicycle became popular. The steam engine attempted a comeback after the appearance of the internal combustion engine, but it ultimately failed. The history of the car was off to a rocky start.

In the early 1800s, the internal combustion engine appeared, though it wouldn’t be until the late 1800s that a car powered by an internal combustion engine and gasoline was introduced, courtesy of Gottlieb Daimler and Karl Benz. Benz designed a brand new vehicle, employing a bicycle’s mechanics to create a three-wheeled vehicle.

At the Paris World’s Fair in 1889 Daimler exhibited his vee-twin engine in his “Steelwheeler” car, which caught the eyes of Panhard and Levassor, a pair of French engineers. The two began to manufacture the engines, but seeing no future of the automobile, decided to option the rights to use them in self-propelled vehicles by Peugeot.

The history of the automobile in America is incredible in its own way. In the late 1800s, automobiles were making their own advances in the United States, and over the course of the next several decades, the American and European auto market would work tirelessly to improve the car. A turning point in the automobile industry came in 1908 with the premiere of Henry Ford’s Model T, the popularity of which made the automobile boom, building 16.5 million units before the end of 1927.


Posted on May 24, 2012 at 10:18 AM