Evolution of the Automobile

  • The first car is created

    The first car is created
    German Mechanical engineer Carl Benz designs the first "vehicle powered by a gas engine". This is also the birth date of the automobile and the Mercedes-Benz manufacturing company
  • Windshield wiper invented, but ignored

    Windshield wiper invented, but ignored
    A woman, Mary Anderson, creates a rubber bladed piece of equipment to "clear rain, sleet, and snow" off of windshields. It is hand operated at this point. All manufactures ignore her, but eventually Cadillac picks up her idea.
  • Rolls Royce: 'Best Car in the World

    Rolls Royce: 'Best Car in the World
    Rolls-Royce shows its 40/50, the prototype for its iconic Silver Ghost. It’s among history’s most famously durable, luxurious and well-engineered cars—and the polar opposite of Henry Ford’s mass-market approach. The company hand-builds fewer than 8,000 copies of the Silver Ghost from 1907 to 1926
  • Cadillac removes hand crank

    Cadillac removes hand crank
    Cadillac introduces the first electric starter on its Touring Edition, created by Charles “Boss” Kettering, a famous inventor and engineer. The starter eliminates the need for drivers to hand-crank cars to life—a process that led to broken arms and other injuries due to engine kickback.
  • Assembly line

    Assembly line
    In October Henry Ford sponsored the development of the moving assembly line. The assembly line was a technique of massive production. This event is important because the assembly line made cars available to all Americans by lowering the cost of production.
  • African American Car Company

    African American Car Company
    C.R. Patterson & Sons of Greenfield, Ohio becomes history’s first and only African American-owned car company.After founder C.R. Patterson, born into slavery in 1833, builds a successful carriage-making firm after the Civil War, his son Frederick evolves the business to go horseless. And while the company hand-builds only a few dozen bespoke Patterson-Greenfield cars between 1915 and 1918, it goes on to fabricate bodies for buses and commercial vehicles until the Depression.
  • First Front Wheel Drive Car

    First Front Wheel Drive Car
    The Traction Avant is credited as the world’s first mass-produced, front-wheel-drive car. Styled by sculptor Flaminio Bertoni, the sleek, lightweight unibody Citroën also pioneers independent suspension and hydraulic brakes. In production for more than 20 years, it becomes an inseparable part of French identity, driven by infamous gangster Pierre “Le Fou” Loutrel and other unsavory yet colorful characters.
  • Hitler Launches the Volkswagen Beetle

    Hitler Launches the Volkswagen Beetle
    Inspired by Model T inventor Henry Ford, Adolf Hitler conceives an affordable “people’s car” for the masses. He enlists carmaker Ferdinand Porsche, who drew the Beetle’s iconic bubble design in 1925. Hitler lays the foundation stone for the Beetle factory. Despite any lingering Nazi associations, postwar America falls hard for the resuscitated Beetle. All told, VW builds 23 million Beetles, more than any nameplate in history, before production ends in 1999.
  • Willys-Overland Delivers First-Ever Jeep

    Willys-Overland Delivers First-Ever Jeep
    With war looming, the U.S. Army seeks bids from 135 automakers to design a “light reconnaissance vehicle” that could handle tough military duty. Completing its design in a remarkable 75 days, Willys delivers its prototype “Quad”—named for its four-wheel-drive system—and goes on to build nearly half of the 700,000 Jeeps used between 1941 and 1945, before switching to civilian production. The popular Jeep Wrangler is a direct descendant of the Willys Jeep.
  • Ferrari's First Race Car

    Ferrari's First Race Car
    Legendary race car company founder Enzo Ferrari calls his seminal 125 S a “promising failure” after its racing debut at Italy’s Piacenza circuit. The voluptuous red roadster goes on to win six of its next 13 races, with 117 horsepower from a V-12 engine that becomes a Ferrari signature. Only two 125 S vehicles are ever built.
  • Airplane-based Car Design: The Tailfin

    Airplane-based Car Design: The Tailfin
    Harley Earl, the larger-than-life father of modern auto styling, takes his team to a Michigan air base to see the P-38 Lightning fighter before World War II. The trip percolates with designer Frank Hershey, who begins sketching and modeling finned rear fenders reminiscent of aircraft and undersea creatures. The 1948 Cadillac’s purely decorative tailfins spark a car design phenomenon. America’s finned flourishes reach near-ridiculous proportions by the late 1950s.
  • Horrific Crash at LeMans

    Horrific Crash at LeMans
    In racing’s deadliest day, French driver Pierre Levegh crashes his Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR during the prestigious 24 Hours of LeMans Formula One race. The Mercedes’ split engine plows through the crowd, and its buzzsawing hood decapitates dozens of spectators. The magnesium alloy “Elektron” body burns white-hot for hours, even as the race continues to its tragic finish. Levegh and 83 spectators are killed, with 120 injured. Several countries ban auto racing until standards improve.