Evolution of the Automobile: How Cars have Changed over the Years
Since the first cars came to be in the late eighteenth century, motoring has radically transformed the modern world. It has granted huge amounts of freedom to individuals, who no longer must rely on public transport, and it has provided us with an actually enjoyable means of getting from one place to another. What was once a strange curiosity, became something fundamental.
Over the years of course, the design of the vehicles in question has changed rapidly. So how did that change take place?
The First Cars
What actually constitutes the first automobile is a matter of some debate, but the credit is usually given to Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot, whose steam-propelled contraption turned heads back in 1769. It used a single steam piston to drive a two-and-a-half tonne carriage. Performance, as you might expect, was far from stellar – depending on who you believe, the vehicle maxed out at just under walking speed, and it couldn’t climb hills, and the fire needed to be relit regularly.
Still, it just goes to show that the first step is often a not-very-impressive one. One of Cugnot’s machines is still on display at the Musée des Arts et Métiers in Paris.
The internal combustion engine sparked a revolution when it arrived in the early nineteenth century, but it wasn’t until a century later than the gears of mass production finally began to turn, and affordable motoring became a reality for the mass market. Much of this change can be credited to Ford and their famous moving assembly line, which churned out millions of Model Ts between 1913 and 1927.
Take a trip through the average motoring museum and you’ll find a whole range of strange contraptions, many of which bear only a passing resemblance to the modern automobile. So, what’s changed over the past hundred years?
The Modern Age
Today, cars are a great deal more fully featured than their antecedents. They’re much lighter, and thus capable of more impressive acceleration and fuel economy. What’s more, they come with many of the same features you might expect from a modern smartphone, including GPS and voice commands. They’re also able to interface with your phone via Bluetooth, which is perfect for listening to audiobooks on a long drive on a motorway. What’s more, there are online lenders who make it possible for motorists to buy the car they want, even if they don’t have the most impressive credit history.
Of course, the more fundamental transformation is the one that is looming on the horizon. In the not-so-distant future, fully automated, electric cars might become a reality – allowing us to get from one place to another without having to worry about what’s on the road. After that happens, the driving test might be quietly retired!