1769: The First self-propelled car was built
Nicolas Cugnot, a French military engineer developed a steam powered road-vehicle for the French army to haul heavy cannons.
Using a steam engine fixed to a three-wheeled cart, Cugnot successfully converted the back-and-forth action of a steam piston into rotary motion.
The truck reputedly reached walking speed and carried four tonnes. The army later abandoned his invention.
1801: Britain's steam powered cars
Richard Trevithick improved the design of steam engines, by making smaller and lighter with stronger boilers generating more power. In 1801, he put one of his new compact steam engines on wheels.
His ‘road locomotive’ - known as the Puffing Devil – was the first horseless carriage to transport passengers. Innovations like hand brakes, gears, and steering improvements were developed in subsequent decades.
1824: Uphill struggle
English engineer, Samuel Brown adapted an old Newcomen steam engine to burn a mixture of oxygen hydrogen gas.
He used it to briefly power a vehicle up Shooter's Hill - the highest point in south London.
1858: First Coal-gas engine
Belgian-born engineer, Jean Joseph Étienne Lenoir invented and patented (1860) a two-stroke, internal combustion engine. It was fuelled by coal gas and triggered by an electric spark-ignition.
Lenoir later attached an improved engine to a three-wheeled wagon and completed a fifty-mile road trip.
1865: Speed restrictions introduced in UK
The Locomotive Act restricted the speed of horse-less vehicles to 4mph in open country and 2 mph in towns.
The act effectively required three drivers for each vehicle; two to travel in the vehicle and one to walk ahead waving a red flag. For the next 30 years cars couldn’t legally travel above walking speed.
1876: Stroke of genius
Nikolaus August Otto invented and later patented a successful four-stroke engine, known as the “Otto cycle.”
The same year, the first successful two-stroke engine was invented by the Scottish engineer, Sir Dugald Clerk.
1886: Motor age moves forward
The first vehicles driven using internal combustion engines were developed roughly at the same time by two engineers working in separate parts of Germany – Gottlieb Daimler and Karl Benz.
They simultaneously formulated highly successful and practically powered vehicles that, by and large, worked like the cars we use today. The age of modern motor cars had begun.
1889: The First Motor Company formed
Two former French wood machinists, Rene Panhard and Emile Levassor, set up the world’s first car manufacturers. Their first car was built in 1890 using a Daimler engine.
Another French company, Peugeot was formed the following year, and still going strong today.
1890: Maybach speeds things up
Wilhelm Maybach built the first four-cylinder, four-stroke engine. Three years later, he develops the spray-nozzle carburettor, which becomes the basis for modern carburettor technology.
A decade later, Maybach developed a race car using lightweight metals fitted with a 35-hp four-cylinder engine and two carburettors. Named the Mercedes, the car reaches 64.4 km/h to shatter the world speed record.
1894: Grand Prix racing begins
Motor racing began as cars were built. Races quickly evolved from a simple chases from town to town, to organised events like time trials endurance tests for car and driver.
Innovations in engineering soon saw competition speeds exceeding 100 mph. Since races were often held on open roads, fatalities were frequent among drivers and spectators.
1896: First Road Traffic Death
Bridget Driscoll, a 44-year old mother of two from Croydon, stepped off a kerb and into the history books. She was hit by a passing motor car near Crystal Palace in London. She died from head injuries.
The driver, Arthur Edsell, was doing just 4mph at the time. The coroner, returning a verdict of accidental death, said “I trust that this sort of nonsense will never happen again.”
1903: The Ford Motor Company Formed
After fitting moving assembly lines to the factory in 1913, Ford became the world's biggest car manufacturer.
By 1927, 15 million Model Ts had been manufactured. Workers on the production line assembled the car just in ninety-three minutes.
1911: Key development
Working for Cadillac’s design and development department, Charles Kettering invented the electric ignition and starter motor. Cars could now start themselves.
Kettering later introduced independent suspension, and four-wheel brakes. And By 1930, most of the technology used in automobiles today had already been invented.
1965: Emissions regulations introduced
Controls on harmful emissions initially introduced in California, the rest of the world soon followed suit.
Safety devices also became mandatory – before this, manufacturers only included seat belts as optional extras.
1973: Energy crisis
After the Arab oil Embargo beginning in October 1973, oil prices rocketed causing a world shortage. Though it was lifted a year later, the effect was explosive – especially in America, where huge gas-guzzling cars were the norm. Fuel economy was suddenly something to consider when buying a car.
1978: Safe stopping distance decreased
The first antilock braking systems (ABS) were developed for automobiles by German manufacurers, Bosch. They first appeared in trucks and cars made by Mercedes-Benz.
ABS brakes to allow the driver to maintain steering control and to shorten braking distances.
1997: Car Manufacturers get green
Manufacturers have acknowledged that oil reserves will dry up in the future. They’re now developing engines that use more than one fuel source – hybrid engines.
Honda and Toyota initially introduced their petrol/electric hybrids to the Japanese market, before releasing them in America and Europe in 2002.
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
1769: The First self-propelled car was built
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