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How Automobiles Work

HOT ROD 100 Presents…
History of the Automobile
“The First 100 Years” it began when we realized animals could
carry us from one place to another as the centuries rolled by we used this
mobility to expand our horizons while at the same time seeking even better ways
to travel we harnessed the power of steam and
began to replace animals with engines but it was not until the development of
the internal combustion engine and the discovery of pools of oil deep in the
earth that we were able to achieve a basic improvement in individual
transform in 1886 two vehicles were unveiled only
months apart by German engineers karl benz and gottlieb daimler the automobile
was born gottlieb daimler was the first to see a
wide variety of uses for the gasoline burning internal combustion engine he
tried it first in a motorcycle and when that was a success he was ready to
install his engine in a carriage at the same time Karl Benz working only 60
miles away was developing his own vehicle but while Daimler was installing
his engine in a carriage benz was creating the world’s first automobile
from scratch it was successfully driven in late 1885 and patented on january 29
1886 which is the birthdate of the automobile daimler’s vehicle made its
appearance a few months later production spread from Germany to France Italy and
England and to help establish the practicality in the automobile races
were held over the roads of the continent these roads have been used for many
hundreds of years and were in relatively good condition certainly much better
than those in North America the races attracted great numbers of spectators
anxious to get their first look at the vehicles that would change their lives
but the automobile in Europe was still to a great extent of placing for the
wealthy and would continue to be so until well into the 20th century in the
meantime the automobile was taking quite a different Road in the united states
where the introduction of the car came about through an 1888 agreement between
daimler and piano manufacturer william steinway but it was charles duryea an
Illinois bicycle manufacturer who built the first American Automobile it made
its appearance on sep tember 20th 1893 two years later he and his brother Frank
established the first American company to manufacture automobiles in 1896 a
rather primitive vehicle appeared one of the hundreds of home-built cars of the
time this one was made by an obscure detroit electric company engineer named
Andrey for another of the many experimenting with cars was ransom old a
Michigan engine manufacturer who understood the potential of the
automobile when a fire destroyed his Detroit Factory in 1901 the only vehicle
to survive was a curved dash model by using it as a prototype and
subcontracting work to local shops oles was able to produce 425 cars that year a
car designed not for the wealthy but for everyone the curve dash Oldsmobile was a
light sturdy economical vehicle adapted to the harsh American roads can olds also realized that producing a car
was only half the battle it was just as important to publicize it which he did
successfully one problem common to everyone building cars at the turn of
the century was the seldom patent George V Seldin was a patent attorney who
actually invented nothing but in 1895 he was awarded a patent on all
gasoline-powered vehicles as a result the manufacture and sale of any
automobile without paying royalties to Selden was illegal but if the cells in
monopoly cut into the profits of manufacturers it did not seem to dampen
their enthusiasm as more and more cars were built everyone was anxious to prove
the worst of his vehicle and its ability to endure the rigors of long-distance
travel in 1901 Roy Chapin uncovered the 820 miles from Detroit to New York in a
day two years later the first
transcontinental trip was completed in 64 days these and many other endurance
runs provided millions with their first glimpse of an automobile spurred on by
these long-distance beats car owners were attracted to the idea of the auto
tour and they set off in groups to explore the country the first race held
in the United States took place in Chicago in 1895 and racing continues to
be an integral part of the automotive scene the excitement of competition helped
promote the car and gave many of the urge he gets behind the wheel themselves
a major change however did take place and racing as close sources began to
replace public roads and point-to-point races spectators were now able to watch
an event from beginning to end the Indianapolis Motor Speedway opened on
August nineteenth nineteen oh nine and 1911 saw the birth of an American
sporting institution as the first Indianapolis 500 with run
in 1911 Henry Ford won the final court victory over the cells and monopoly and
could turn his full attention to building the car that would alter the
face of the nation the Model T more than 15 million were built between 1908 and
1926 to keep up with demand Ford refined the idea of the assembly line and the
company was soon turning out cars at the rate of one thousand a day by 1926
two-thirds of all cars on the road were Model T it was truly a car for all the
people the models he also found a place in the movie that were then capturing
the public’s imagination the two industries had been developed at about
the same time and seemed to share a common appeal Hollywood was quick to
discover the thrill of the chase as the automobile became an important part of
the streams comedy antic even racing driver Barney Oldfield
became a film hero for a brief moment as he and Max Senate race to the rescue of
a damsel in distress the automobile as we know it today was
beginning to take shape hand-cranking had been eliminated in 1912 with the
introduction of the electric starter heaters and windshield wipers became
standard equipment and the closed car was replacing open model as the nineteen
twenties began the population in the United States edged past 100 million and
there were eight million cars wending their way through urban traffic jam board was still the leading manufacturer
but General Motors was providing strong competition General Motors came into
being in 1908 as a result of the vision of Billy Durant one of the more colorful
figures in automotive history Durant dream was of an empire that would
produce not a single Universal car I’ve been bored skates for the variety of
cars one that he would say for every Perth and bourbon beginning with his own
Buick company Durant acquired oldsmobile then Cadillac and a dozen other car and
truck builders but great promoter that he was Durant was an inconsistent
businessman and was soon forced out of his financially troubled company an
equally unsuccessful second tenure at GM ended for Durant as the dependent recept
in to bail out the company management was turned over to Alfred P Sloan whose
business talents brought General Motors to the top of the industry walter Chrysler had left the Buick
Division of General Motors in 1990 he admired Sloan’s organizational genius
and became convinced the General Motors approach was the right one Chrysler
unveiled his own car in 1924 and with the acquisition of Dodge in 1928 was
able to offer the range of cars he felt to be necessary if a company was to
survive the changing tastes of the buyer the last of the major American companies
was in place as the decade rolled on cars were improving as where the bad
road conditions still found in many parts of the country the federal government made one of its
goals the establishment of the nationwide system of highway and
throughout the country construction crews turned dirt roads into gravel
asphalt or concrete ribbons buns were also made available for the
completion of the Lincoln Highway and the country’s first transcontinental
roof wound its way 3,400 miles from coast to coast as the number of paved
roads increased more and more people traveled by car by 1929 45 million
persons a year were using the automobile to vacation and the demand for roadside
restaurants and overnight accommodations grew accordingly and the number of
service stations increased tenfold during the twenties to over 120,000 no where was the impact of the
automobile as dramatic as in Los Angeles the city built around the car at
thousands upon thousands of people poured into this land of sunshine and
seeming abundance the automobile allowed the city to decentralize a car culture
was gone that would be imitated throughout the country in the decades
ahead even as the automobile was establishing
itself as an indispensable part of everyday life it was also a symbol of
affluence American luxury cars competed with European imports for the attention
of the upper class bias the 1930s however would be remembered not for the
occasional signs of opulence but for the depression that gripped the country as dust chokes the midsection of our
land the automobile provided a means of escape thousands of families piled the
few belongings that would fit into their cars or trucks and headed west to a new
life in the thirties car is outnumbered both
telephones and bathtubs in the united states leading humorist Will Rogers to
observe that we are the first nation in the history of the world to go to the
poor house in an automobile in spite of the depression the 1930s also saw the
mileage of paved roads more than double and bridges and tunnels with the
engineering marvels of the time people watched as the george washington bridge
span new york’s hudson river and became the world’s longest suspension bridge it
would be followed by other equally imposing structure the decade came to a close on a high
note with the opening of the 1939 world space the automobile industry was well
represented at the fair as it showed off the advances car that made in the 30 all
steel bodies for added durability and safety automatic transmission for ease
of driving radios and air conditioning to increase comfort the fair showed
millions what wonders await event but the hopes and the dreams would have to
wait for what the future held was war with the conflict already sweeping
across Europe we prepared for our inevitable involvement when we did enter
the conflict automobile production ceased entirely as materials of war
float off our assembly line for the duration automakers alone would account
for one-fifth of America’s total military output you you when the truth came home they were eager
to find for themselves and their families a piece of the American dream
for which they had fought among the returning servicemen was William Levin
who had ideas about how to improve our standard of living he would use an
assembly line approach to mass-produce affordable housing as workers move from house to house each
with an assigned task to perform large tracts of suburban land were transformed
into row upon row of neat little houses a whole new way of life was introduced
as entire towns and communities emerged with shopping centers to take care of
the new suburban I central to this new lifestyle was the
automobile without it the exodus from city to suburbs could not have occurred as Detroit returned to the business of
producing cars it found the market filled with old cars and hungry
customers automobiles were sold as fast as they could be made from only 83,000
cars produced in 1945 the numbers soared to more than six and a half million in
1950 the automobile had appealed to the young
of every generation and so it was in the 50s as they personalize their cars
haunted drive-in and drag race at this drop of a hat bracing of all kinds enjoys popularity
from the Indianapolis 500 the midget events at local tracks stock car racing especially underwent
spectacular growth during this period as large clouds were drawn to track such as
this one in Atlanta but power was not the only thing that
attracted buyers manufacturers turned to radical styling changes chrome and
gadgetry to win their share of the market it was a far cry from the basic
black one model approach of Henry Ford but a natural enough progression in the
stylistic evolution of the automobile in the decade since the nineteen twenties I the 1950s also called the beginning of
the interstate highway system the largest single public works project in
the history of man now three decades later the system’s 42
thousand five hundred miles is virtually complete at a cost of over 100 billion
dollars the impact of the interstate highway network has been enormous as
arteries reached into every corner of the nation trucks replaced trains as the
primary carrier of our good studies were bypassed and where highways met new
communities sprang up roadside services proliferating and as highway entrances
and exits businesses took root bye as the fifties gave way to the 60s the
fly caught up with demand sensibility and practicality returned to styling and
auto companies began turning out a wider variety of cars in an effort to meet the
needs of the new phenomenon the multi car family
another automotive development took place in the 50s that would have an
enormous impact the few car is imported from Europe were solidly engineered
luxury cars now among these few imports was an odd-looking car from Germany a
card that didn’t even have its engine where it was supposed to be at the
beginning the Volkswagen didn’t make much of an impression in fact it is said
that when the first beetle arrived in the United States and January of 1949 a
few customs officials had to be convinced that it was a car only two were sold at first year the
company successfully urged consumers to think small and starting in the mid 50’s
Volkswagen sales increased dramatically early beetle owners enjoyed a
camaraderie honking their horns in greeting as they passed each other by
the late 1960s more than 400,000 beetles a year were being sold in the United
States and in 1972 the beetle broke the record held by the Model T as the
world’s most produced cost Detroit took heed of the first real threat to its
continued dominance by moving belatedly and somewhat reluctantly into the
production of economical compact car but the problems faced by American
manufacturers continued to mount in the 1960s critics led by Ralph Nader attacks
the safety of automobiles as well as their negative impact on our environment
they took their causes to convict looking for government intervention and
regulation in 1973 a gasoline shortage ship to country dealing Detroit another
blood as consumers waited on service station lines they were forced to
realize the automobile was using up the world’s oil resources at an alarming
rate some turn to the economy offered by
diesel cars manufactured in Europe where this technology had long been utilized but for most economy minded car buyers
the answer was to be found in Japanese imports these cars increased American
awareness of the quality workmanship than many of the foreign products and
further eroded Detroit’s preeminent how serious was the effective overseas
production on the American industry in 1960 imports accounted for seven and a
half percent of the car is sold in the United States in 1970 their market share
was fifteen percent and by 1980 it was twenty-seven percent over 2 million
imported cars most of them from Japan are sold in the United States every year
and what can we look for in the automobiles second century has the
revolution in individual transport begun by karl benz and gottlieb daimler
reached its ultimate point not at all there are many questions to be answered
many goals yet to be reached manufacturers around the world are
utilizing computerization to improve engineering and design micro processors
keep cars within the bounds of fuel economy and emission standards while
monitoring and controlling engine operation under all kinds of driving
conditions after centuries of trying after 100
years of the automobile we continue to seek still better safer way to get from
place to place you

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