History of Cars By Kenny Carroll
Motor car, road vehicle which first appeared in the 19th Century. The steam propelled the first cars, but such vehicles were not a success and the age of the motor car really dates from the introduction of the petrol-driven horseless carriages of Gottfrield Daimler and Karl Benz (1885-86). The internal combustion engine for these cars had been developed earlier by several engineers, most notably by the German, Nickolaus Otto, in 1876. The main components of a motor car, from then till now, are a body or chassis to which are attached all other parts - including the engine or power plant, the transmission system for transferring the drive to the wheels, and the steering, braking and suspension mechanisms for guiding, stopping and supporting the car. A few experts assembled the first cars, but Henry Ford and R. E. Olds in the USA began modern mass-production in the early 1900s. By this means, the cost of a car was drastically reduced, and more people could afford done. In most modern car factories component parts are put together on assembly lines - slow-moving conveyor belts. Each worker usually has a specific task, example fitting doors or crankshafts. Bodies and engines are constructed on separate assembly lines, which converge when the engine is installed. Overhead rail conveyors move heavy components to and along the assembly lines, and lower them into position. At a later stage on the assembly line such items as lamps are fitted, and electrical, braking and control systems are tested. The fully assembled car is road tested before sale.
The automobile was not invented overnight. It took shape from an accumulation of technical advances that resulted in a light and efficient engine. The accepted "fathers of the modern motor car" are two Germans, Karl Benz (1844-1929) and Gottfried Daimler (1834-1900), who built their first petrol-fuelled motor vehicles within a few months of each other (1885-6).
More than a hundred years earlier, the first self-propelled road vehicle had rumbled through the streets of Paris at nearly 5km/h (3mph) when Nicolas Cugnot (1725-1804) demonstrated his steam-driven wagon.
The German Nikolas Otto (1832-91) made the first four-stroke internal-combustion engine in 1876 and in 1885 Daimler had installed a small four-stroke engine in a cycle frame. He drove his first four-wheeled petrol-driven vehicle round Cannstatt in 1886. In neighboring Mannheim, Benz had tested his three-wheeled car.
Daimler licensed the French firm of Panhard and Levassor to build his engine. Levassor placed it at the front of his crude car and it drove the rear road-wheels through a clutch and a gearbox. Thus in 1891 the first car to use modern engineering layout was seen. Within three years of the appearance of the first Panhard France was staging motor races on public road.
At the turn of the century, petrol, steam and electric power shared almost equal popularity for powering cars. Steam was well...