The History And Origin Of The Car
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The History And Origin Of The Car

Cars are automobiles or self-propelled vehicles used primarily on public roads. The history and origin of the car actually began about 4000 years ago .

Cars are automobiles or self-propelled vehicles used primarily on public roads but adaptable to other surfaces. A car usually has four wheels and can carry up to six people, including a driver. The history and origin of the car actually began about 4000 years ago when in India wheels were being used for transportation. In about the 15th Century in China, a wheel that propelled itself was used for transportation and by the 17th Century, small steam powered engines had been developed in many places. In 1769 French Army officer Captain Nicholas-Joseph Cugnot built the first authenticated automobile, a three wheeler steam powered engine that carried four persons. Its speed limit was 3.2 km per hour.

Steam Car from 1908 on flickr.com by Martin Pettitt

By the early 1800s, heavy steam powered automobiles were in use in England but were bared by the British Laws from public roads and forced the owners to run them on private tracks like the train. In 1802 a steam-powered coach designed by British engineer Richard Trevithick journeyed more than 160 km from Cornwall to London and in 1804 American inventor Oliver Evans built a steam-powered vehicle in Chicago, Illinois. In 1828 French engineer Onésiphore Pecqueur built a steam powered automobile.

Old car on flickr.com by CGoulao

In the mid 1800s steam powered coaches and carriages were extensively in use in England. They were really causing bad business for the horse-drawn stagecoach companies and the new railroad companies, so these companies pressurized the British Parliament to approve heavy tolls on steam-powered road vehicles. Affected by this law was the British inventor Walter Handcook who built a series of steam carriages in 1830. Later in the 20th Century, steam cars were popular in the United States. By 1932, manufacturers of steam automobiles had produced about 125 models. Prominent among these producers was the American twin brothers Freelan and Francis Stanley who manufactured a steamer that established a world land speed record of205.44 km per hour.

1935 White Motors Car on flickr.com by Hugo90

Along side the development of steam engines was the internal combustion engines. These engines burned fuel in cylinders hence were called combustion engines. In 1806 French inventor Jean-Joseph-Étienne Lenoir patented a one-cylinder engine that used kerosene for fuel. In 1864 Austrian inventor Siegfried Marcus built and drove a carriage propelled by a two-cylinder gasoline engine and in 1876 American inventor George Brayton patented an internal-combustion engine that was displayed at the Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

German engineer Nikolaus August Otto built a four-stroke gas engine 1876. The Nikolaus design formed the basics for the design of car engines till the present date. In 1885 German engineer Gottlieb Daimler and German inventor Wilhelm Maybach mounted a gasoline-powered engine onto a bicycle and invented a motorcycle and in 1887 they manufactured their first car. In 1886 another German engineer Karl Benz produced his first gasoline car.

Classic Cars and Trucks on flickr.com by Martin Pettitt

In 1890 Daimler and Maybach started a successful car manufacturing company, ‘The Daimler Motor Company’, which eventually merged with Benz’s manufacturing firm in 1926 to create Daimler-Benz. The Mercedes Benz cars of today are the product of the inventions of Daimler, Maybach and Benz. In 1894, a company called Panhard-Levassor began making cars using Daimler’s patents but with great innovations: instead of installing the engine under the seats, as other car designers had done, they introduced the design of a front-mounted engine under the hood. Panhard-Levassor also introduced a clutch and gears, and separate construction of the chassis and the car body. A French bicycle manufacturer Armand Peugeot designed an automobile using a similar Daimler engine. In 1891 the first Peugeot automobile did a distance of 1,046-km in a professional bicycle race between Paris and Brest. The Renault also joined the business in the 1800s while in Italy, Fiat (Fabbrica Italiana Automobili di Torino) began building cars in 1899. In America, brothers Charles Edgar Duryea and James Frank Duryea built gas powered vehicles between 1893 and 1895. In 1893 American industrialist Henry Ford built an internal-combustion engine from plans he saw in a magazine and in 1896 he used the engine to power a vehicle mounted on bicycle wheels.

Daimler Bottle car 1923 on flickr.com  by Terry Wha

There is also the electric car which was developed alongside the steam and internal combustion automobiles. In the 1800s, electric cars were already in use, though its speed limit was lower than that of the steam and internal combustion cars. In 1899 a Belgian inventor Camille Janatzy designed an electric car that set a record of 105.8810 km/h; most electric cars have a top speed of 48 km per hour.

New Benz E250 CDI coupe on flickr.com by U-g-g-B-o-y-(-photograph-world-sense-)

There have been series of innovations to the car automobile industry in the 20th and the current 21st Centuries. Cars are no longer like horse carriages but designed with features for convenience. In 1906 gasoline-powered cars were produced in new models with a hood covered front-mounted engine, two kerosene or acetylene lamps mounted to the front to serve as headlights with fenders that covered the wheels and step-up platforms called running boards, which helped passengers get in and out of the vehicle, while the passenger compartment was behind the engine, not on the engine as it used to be. By 1920, cars were having synchromesh transmissions for easier gear shifting; four-wheel hydraulic brake systems; improved carburetors; shatterproof glass; balloon tires; heaters; and mechanically operated windshield wipers. In the 1930s cars were built more luxurious with many cylinders and front suspensions, high compressions, more reliable brake systems, long hoods and pontoon shaped fenders.

Humber Super Snipe Staff car WW2 on flickr.com by Steve Nimmons

In 1936 Mercedes introduced the world’s first diesel car and in the 1940s, sealed-beam headlights, tubeless tires, and the automatic transmission were introduced. In the 1950s new features were introduced to the car. These include air conditioning and electrically operated car windows, seat adjusters and a change from the 6-volt to the 12-volt ignition system. By 1960s the car manufacturers kept improving on the standard of the car. Automatic transmissions, power brakes, and power steering became widespread and the car became more comfortable, luxurious with a good level of safety. In the 1970s more compact cars were being introduced by British and Japanese car manufacturers and Catalytic converters were introduced to help reduce exhaust emissions. In the 1980s digital speedometers and electronic prompts to service parts of the vehicle appeared. Japanese and British manufacturers produced more sporty cars and luxurious minivans. There was great technological improvement on the car as better engine control and the use of innovative types of fuel were introduced. In 1981 BMW (Bayerische Motoren Werke AG) introduced an on-board computer to monitor engine performance.

Supersports car - Lamborghini Cabriolet on flickr.com by U-g-g-B-o-y-(-photograph-world-sense-)

The car keeps undergoing timely innovations as different sophisticated technologies are being integrated into the automobile system. Safety and luxurious equipments are being introduced into the car on a daily bases and there is a fierce competition in the automobile industry.

Rolls-Royce Phantom Limousine on flickr.com by U-g-g-B-o-y-(-photograph-world-sense-)

 Picture in box by dchasteen on flickr.com

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Comments (2)

excellent article, thank you so much

Mercedes Guy

Enjoyed the article and the cool car photographs you selected to accompany it.

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