By cvito88
  • Internal Combustion Engine

    In 1860, Etienne Lenoir of France invented the first four-wheeled vehicle to be powered by a gas engine. It was a two-stroker that employed two concepts which are considered by some today as new -- stratified charging of the fuel mixture by introducing air and gas separately into the combustion chamber, and water injection. Both methods were employed by Lenoir to keep his one-cylinder engine from knocking.
  • Hybrid engine

    Historical records indicate that an electric-powered taxicab, using a battery with 28 cells and a small electric motor, was introduced in England.
  • Daimler engine

    France: The French “Panhard et Levassor” car manufacturing company, which was founded the previous year, produced their first car which was fitted with a Daimler engine.
  • Peugeot

    France: Armand Peugeot started manufacturing four-wheeled cars that were powered by a Daimler petrol fuelled engine, producing 4 cars in that year. In 1891 he produced sixty-five Type 3 & 4 models.
  • Panhard-Levassor

    Panhard-Levassor made vehicles that had a pedal-operated clutch, a chain transmission leading to a change-speed gear box, and a front radiator. Levassor was the first designer to move the engine to the front of the car and use a rear-wheel drive layout. This design was known as the Systeme Panhard and quickly became the standard for all cars because it gave a better balance and improved steering. Panhard and Levassor are also credited with the invention of the modern transmission
  • Steering Wheel

    Alexander Winton became famous for his innovations in automotive design, ultimately registering more than one hundred patents. He is credited with building the first car with a steering wheel. Prior to the advent of the steering wheel, automobile manufacturers utilized a lever device, which was known as the steering tiller.
  • Electric cab company

    The London Electric Cab Company began regular service using cars designed by Walter Bersey. The Bersey Cab, which used a 40-cell battery and 3 horsepower electric motor, could be driven 50 miles between charges.
  • Lohner Electric Chaise

     Lohner Electric Chaise
    The Austrian Dr. Ferdinand Porsche, at age 23, built his first car, the Lohner Electric Chaise. It was the world's first front-wheel-drive. Porsche's second car was a hybrid, using an internal combustion engine to spin a generator that provided power to electric motors located in the wheel hubs. On battery alone, the car could travel nearly 40 miles
  • Electric Vehicle Company

    The Pope Manufacturing Company merged with two smaller electric car companies to form the Electric Vehicle Company, the first large-scale operation in the American automobile industry. The company had assets of $200 million.
  • Pneumatic tire

    Pneumatic tires are made of a flexible elastomer material, such as rubber, with reinforcing materials such as fabric and wire. Tire companies were first started in the early 20th century, and grew in tandem with the auto industry. Today, over 1 billion tires are produced annually in over 400 tire factories.
  • Voiturette

    A Belgian carmaker, Pieper, introduced a 3-1/2 horsepower "voiturette" in which the small gasoline engine was mated to an electric motor under the seat. When the car was "cruising," its electric motor was in effect a generator, recharging the batteries. But when the car was climbing a grade, the electric motor, mounted coaxially with the gas engine, gave it a boost. The Pieper patents were used by a Belgium firm, Auto-Mixte, to build commercial vehicles from 1906 to 1912.
  • Steel Body

    Steel Body
    The first U.S.-built auto to sport a steel body was the 1901 Eastman Steamer, the first to have an aluminum body was the 1902 Marmon. Both were built with all-wood frames to which metal panels were pinned.
  • First automobile race on American soil

  • First Automatic Transmission

    The first automatic was invented in 1904 by the Sturtevant brothers of Boston. It provided two forward speeds that were engaged and disengaged by the action of centrifugal weights without need for a foot-operated clutch. As engine speed increased, the weights swung out to engage bands -- first the low-gear band and then the high-gear band. The unit failed because the weights often flew apart.
  • Ford

    Production LineHenry Ford overcame the challenges posed by gasoline-powered cars — noise, vibration, and odor — and began assembly-line production of low-priced, lightweight, gas-powered vehicles. Within a few years, the Electric Vehicle Company failed.
  • Hinged doors

    Hinged side doors -- two of them -- became popular in 1905; four of them started to become popular in 1913, although they were available in 1910
  • The Brush Two-Seat Runabout

    The Brush Two-Seat Runabout
    featured a revolutionary suspension system that incorporated two innovations never before assembled together: front coil springs and devices at each wheel that dampened spring bounce -- shock absorbers -- mounted on a flexible hickory axle
  • "Gasoline Motor Cars"

    In 1906, Cosmopolitan magazine published a complete guide to the new "Gasoline Motor Cars." Thirteen models had one-cylinder engines. 54 had two-cylinder engines, five were equipped with three-cylinder engines, and 59 sported four-cylinder engines.. The remaining vehicles included one with a V8 engine built in Redondo Beach California (it was called The Coyote), and a 40-hp, six-cylinder engine in a five-passenger car. The latter vehicle which sold for $2500, was manufactured by a motor company
  • Engine technology

    Although the typical gas engine at the turn of the century was quite different from today's engines, most modern powerplant technology had been tried by 1906.
  • Hydraulic Shock Absorber

    Hydraulic Shock Absorber
    M. Houdaille of France gets credit for designing the first workable hydraulic shock absorber in 1908. Hydraulic shocks damp spring oscillations by forcing fluid through small passages. In the popular tubular shock, a piston with small orifices is attached to the chassis and a cylindrical oil reservoir is attached to the suspension or axle. As the suspension moves up and down, the piston is forced through the oil, resisting the action of the spring.
  • Armored wood

    Armored wood
    The wood frame/metal panel arrangement lasted about 10 years. Then, wood frames reinforced with steel to give the car body greater rigidity came along. Called armored wood, it saw its first use as framing to hold the steel body panels of the 1911 Hupmobile. Built by Edward Budd, the Hupp body was the traditional design for the day -- a touring (open) car.
  • Harmonic Balancer

    In 1912, an ad for the Type 35 Mercer, which sported an in-line six-cylinder engine, made mention of a "large and perfectly balanced crankshaft to make the engine practically vibrationless." The Mercer Automobile Co. recognized that as low-speed engines gave way to high-speed engines, vibration caused by crankshaft rotation was going to become troublesome. Balancing the crankshaft became even more of a factor as the number of cylinders increased. In 1916, Packard introduced the first production
  • Starter

    With the advent of the self-starter (making it easy for all drivers to start gas engines), steamers and electrics were almost completely wiped out. In this year, sales of electric cars dropped to 6,000 vehicles, while the Ford Model T sold 182,809 gasoline cars
  • The Unibody

    The Unibody
    H. Jay Hayes created the vehicles that appeared on the market without framing. Instead, body members were fashioned into tubular form to give metal the rigidity it needed to do without a frame. The engine and suspension members rested on a platform. The car was called the Ruler Frameless
  • Cylinder selection

    "The most marvelous automobile improvement yet invented," another ad says. "Pull the little lever -- your 12 is a 6; push the little lever, your 6 is a 12." This was the way the Enger Motor Car Co. of Cincinnati described the 1917 Twin-Unit Twelve. By means of a small lever on the steering column, the driver was able to cut out six of the engine's 12 cylinders to attain maximum fuel economy, and cut them back in just as quickly for maximum power.
  • Electric goes Dormant

    Dormant period for mass-produced electric and hybrid cars. So-called alternative cars became the province of backyard tinkerers and small-time entrepreneurs.
  • Torsion bar suspension

    Torsion bar suspension
    The first automobile to use torsion bar suspension was the Leyland. Most of the credit for the wide acceptance of torsion bars in Europe goes to Dr. Ferdinand Porsche who made it standard on most of his cars.
  • X-member frame

    X-member frame
    The Auburn came out with the first X-member frame. The structure provided a major stride in torsional stiffness and cut down on vibration
  • Six-cylinder L-head

    Another gasoline engine development worthy of mention is the 1924 Chrysler six-cylinder L-head, which incorporated a hemispherically domed combustion chamber designed to combat detonation, and the first replaceable cartridge oil filter. But don't get the idea that this was the first hemihead engine. It wasn't. As far as we've been able to determine, that distinction is reserved for the 1904 Welch Four.
  • Spray on laquer

    The development of quick-drying lacquer that could be sprayed on occurred in 1924. It, more than any other development, ushered in the era of mass auto production. Until then most auto bodies were finished with paint and varnish, which took weeks to dry. Some old timers remember the days when new cars were lined up for miles along Detroit's Woodward Avenue waiting for "that damn varnish to lose its tackiness." Meanwhile, the production lines slowed to a crawl. There was just no more room to put
  • Cadillac V8

    Another car of the 1920s worthy of mention was the 1926 Cadillac V8, which introduced crankcase ventilation to get rid of contaminating agents that caused engine wear. This vent system, open to the atmosphere, continued until 1963 when positive crankcase ventilation (PCV), a closed system came into use.
  • 1920s Automobile racing

  • Air Suspension

    Air Suspension
    The first practical air suspension was developed by Firestone for an experimental car called the Stout-Scarab
  • Reintroduction of coil springs

    Reintroduction of coil springs
    General Motors, Chrysler, Hudson, and others reintroduced coil spring front suspension, this time with each wheel sprung independently. In that year, most cars started using hydraulic shock absorbers and balloon (low-pressure) tires
  • 6 and 8 cylinders reign

    By 1934, public interest in these massive powerplants started to wane, leaving six- and eight-cylinder engines to reign for almost 50 years. Today, the Four has returned and now it looks like two- and three-cylinder engines may make a comeback.
  • Automatic Safety Transmission

    Oldsmobile came out with a four-speed semi-automatic transmission called the "Automatic Safety Transmission" (AST). The driver depressed the clutch pedal and shifted into reverse or into one of two forward ranges: Low or High. Once in Low, the transmission shifted automatically from first to second; when in High, it shifted from third to fourth
  • Hydra-Matic

    The Hydra-Matic consisted of three planetary gearsets that were operated hydraulically. A fluid coupling was used to connect the engine and transmission. Credit for perfecting the fluid coupling goes to Chrysler, which developed the concept in 1937. However, Chrysler did not make use of it until 1941, when the Chrysler Fluid Drive transmission was introduced. This was not an automatic unit, but a standard transmission with a fluid coupling, not a clutch.
  • Back-end coil springs

    Back-end coil springs
    Buick became the first U.S. manufacturer to use back-end coil springs. Manufacturers have switched back and forth from model to model between leaf and coil springs since then. Generally, large, heavy cars are equipped with leaf springs, while small light cars have coil springs
  • 1940s racing

  • Hardtop Convertible

    Hardtop Convertible
    Credit for the first modern hardtop convertible goes to Chrysler -- with a 1946 model. But the first hardtop retractable convertible was invented by B. B. Ellerbeck in 1931
  • The Automatic Transmission

    By 1948, the automatic transmission had evolved into the hydraulic torque converter that we know today coupled to a planetary geartrain. The first to use the converter was Buick. In 1948 Buick offered the Dynaflow fully automatic transmission as a $244 option on the Roadmaster. Within three years, 85 percent of Buicks had the Dynaflow. The Dynaflow was the model for present-day automatic transmissions. Others soon followed with similar units -- Chevrolet Powerglide, Fordomatic and Merc-O-Matic i
  • High-compression V8

    Many engines of the 1930s introduced exhaust-valve seat inserts to overcome burning and pitting, hydraulic valve lifters and lightweight Babbitt metal bearings that were able to handle loads imposed by higher and higher engine speeds. And 1949 saw the introduction of lightweight, square bore-and-stroke, OHV, high-compression V8 engines by Caddy and Olds.
  • Fiberglass body construction

    Fiberglass body construction
    The Kaiser Darrin and Chevy Corvette share the honor of being the first production sports cars with fiberglass bodies, but Ford built a fiberglass prototype as early as 1938
  • 1950s racing

  • MacPherson struts

    MacPherson struts
    MacPherson, a GM engineer, developed this unit in the 1960s. It combines the coil spring, hydraulic shock absorber, and upper suspension arm into a single compact device. The main advantage is that it allows the necessary space for positioning the front-drive transaxle
  • Lotus

    Lotus introduced its "backbone" chassis on the 1962 Elan. A central steel box section carried the engine, drive shaft, and suspension. The fiberglass body was bonded (glued) to this steel frame.
  • Bring back electric

    U.S. Congress introduced first bills recommending use of electric vehicles as a means of reducing air pollution
  • 1960s racing

  • Electromechanical transmission

    Three scientists working at TRW, a major auto supplier, created a practical hybrid powertrain. Dr. Baruch Berman, Dr. George H. Gelb and Dr. Neal A. Richardson developed, demonstrated and patented the system—designated as an electromechanical transmission (EMT) providing brisk vehicle performance with an engine smaller than required by a conventional internal combustion engine drive. Many of the engineering concepts incorporated in that system are used in today's hybrids.
  • Arab oil embargo

    With the Arab oil embargo of 1973, the price of gasoline soared, creating new interest in electric vehicles. The U.S. Department of Energy ran tests on many electric and hybrid vehicles produced by various manufacturers, including a hybrid known as the “VW Taxi” produced by Volkswagen in Wolfsburg, West Germany. The Taxi, which used a parallel hybrid configuration allowing flexible switching between the gasoline engine and electric motor, logged over 8,000 miles on the road, and was shown at aut
  • Public Law 94-413

    U.S. Congress enacted Public Law 94-413, the Electric and Hybrid Vehicle Research, Development, and Demonstration Act of 1976. Among the law’s objectives were to work with industry to improve batteries, motors, controllers, and other hybrid-electric components. General Electric was chosen to construct a parallel-hybrid sedan, and Toyota built its first hybrid — a small sports car with a gas-turbine generator supplying current to an electric motor.
  • 1980s racing

  • 80 MPG!!

    The Clinton Administration announced a government initiative called the Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles (PNGV). In the program, the government worked with the American auto industry to develop a clean car that could operate at up to 80 miles per gallon. Several years and a billion dollars later, the PNGV emerged with three prototypes for their 80 mpg car. Every prototype was a hybrid
  • Toyota Prius

    Toyota Prius
    The Toyota Prius was introduced to the Japanese market, two years before its original launch date, and prior to the Kyoto global warming conference held in December. First-year sales were nearly 18,000.
  • The future of the automobile?

    The future of the automobile?
    Potential future car technologies include varied energy sources and materials, which are being developed in order to make automobiles more energy efficient with reduced regulated emissions. Cars are being developed in many different ways.
    With rising gas prices, the future of the automobile is now leaning towards fuel efficiency, energy-savers, hybrid vehicles, battery electric vehicles, and fuel-cell vehicles.
  • Technological capabilities of today

  • Near future cars

    Near future cars
    The BMW i8 Concept Spyder is powered by the groundbreaking BMW eDrive technology, consisting of an agile BMW electric motor, innovative battery technology and an intelligent engine management system, coupled with a TwinPower Turbo combustion engine. In a show of unmatched coordination – and due to the car's minimised weight – this two-seated, open-top sports car reaches a combined system output of up to 260 kW (354 hp) while using no more than 3 litres of fuel at 100 km* (78.4mpg)