The development of automobiles

The development of automobiles

Automobiles have evolved a lot since the late 19th century.



automobile, transport of people, vehicle, car, car manufacturing, mass production, internal combustion engine, engine, petrol engine, diesel engine, electric motor, invention, history of transport, history of technology, technology, transportation, geography

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  • 1885 Benz
  • 1907 Ford T
  • 1938 Citroën 15CV
  • 1957 Chevy Sport Coupé
  • 1971 Fiat 500
  • 1989 Mercedes-Benz 190
  • 2002 Dodge Viper
  • 2012 Tesla Model S

A car or automobile is a self-propelled, wheeled land vehicle. The synonym ´motor car´ indicates the presence of an internal engine which enables a car to move independently.

The car is the best-known and perhaps the most popular object of the last century. Throughout their evolution, cars have developed a great deal, but in each period they reflected the current economic processes, social trends and stage of scientific and technical development.

From the pioneering models, to the modern and environmentally friendly cars of today, automobiles have had a long history.


  • 1885: Benz

One pioneer of automobile production was the German engineer Carl Benz. Unlike his contemporary and competitor, Gottlieb Daimler (later his business partner), Benz produced not only the engine, but also the entire vehicle. His first petrol engine-driven vehicle appeared in 1885 and was patented the following year.

His company opened the world´s first auto plant. Between 1886 and 1893, 69 steel structured, three-wheel cars were produced. The models were driven by a 1,600 cm³, four-phase, ¾ horsepower motor at a speed of 13 km/h.


  • 1907: Ford Model T

Henry Ford, an American car manufacturer, produced the Model T in his plant between 1908 and 1927. This model was the world´s first vehicle produced on an assembly line.
Beside introducing mass production, József Galamb, the company´s originally Hungarian designer, also played an important role in other innovations at the Ford Motor Company.

The heart of the model was a 2.9-litre, four-cylinder engine. With its 20-horsepower engine, the vehicle could reach a speed of 70 km/h. The body of the vehicle was mostly made of steel, while the wheels were made of wood covered with tyres.

Produced in many variants, the Ford Model T quickly achieved great popularity around the world due to its price and its easy handling.


  • 1938: Citroën 15CV

This popular type was produced by the French Citroën automobile company between 1934 and 1957. A total of nearly 760,000 units was produced. Available in several variants, the luxury model was designed by Flaminio Bertoni and André Lefèbvre.

The welded, self-supporting body was a revolutionary innovation, because the vehicle was lighter, weighing between 1,025 and 1,170 kg.
Weight reduction had a positive effect on speed and consumption. The front-wheel drive model could reach a speed of 100 km/h, with an average consumption of 10 litres for every 100 kilometres driven.

Apart from developing the traction system and the chassis, Citroën also used front suspension coil springs.


  • 1957: Chevy Sport Coupé

The Bel Air model and its many variants were manufactured by the Chevrolet division of the American company General Motors between 1949 and 1975. A popular variant of the Bel Air was the second-generation sport coupe, advertised as the 'Hot One.'

The V8 engine produced in 1955 was so successful that it served as a model for automotive plants for decades. The base engine was a 4.3-litre, 162-horse power engine, but other more efficient versions were also produced.

An extraordinary energy source propelled the sport coupe, allowing for fearsome acceleration; however, the car was also reliable. Symbolising the American dream, it had an unconventional and legendary exterior design, including chrome parts, unique upholstery and wheel covers. Interestingly, the Chevys came with an automatic transmission and safety belts.


  • 1971: Fiat 500

In the 1970s, a new trend in car manufacturing evolved in Europe. Large companies launched an increasing number of cheap, small, and practical cars on the market: urban vehicles. One of the symbols of that period was the Nuova Cinquecento model, launched by Italy’s Fiat.

Designed by Dante Giacosa, the model was produced between 1957 and 1975. A total of nearly 4 million units was produced.

One of the first city cars, the Fiat 500, redefined the small car. The Nuova Cinquecento was less than 3 metres long and weighed only 500 kg. At its heart was a 500 or 600 cm³ engine.


  • 1989: Mercedes-Benz 190

In the second half of the 1980s, the global economy began to emerge from the oil crisis. As major automotive plants recovered, they focused on the production of big, comfortable luxury cars.

In Europe, German companies were the leading high-end, luxury car manufacturers. Equipped with modern electronics, these high-end cars were regarded as symbols of a luxurious lifestyle.

The Mercedes-Benz company invested heavily in the development of the four-metre long Model 190. The investment paid-off, since they were able to sell about 2 million units of the model, while it was manufactured between 1982 and 1993.

Many variants with diesel or petrol engines were produced. The engine had a capacity of 1,800 cm³, an output of 100 HP with a top-end speed of 200 km/h. The innovative fuel injection engine was strong, but did not consume much.


  • 2002: Dodge Viper

The Dodge division of the American company Chrysler started manufacturing the Viper model in 1992. Currently, the fifth generation of Vipers are in production. This two-seat sports car derives its name from the venomous snake.

The Detroit-based company’s second generation Vipers were manufactured between 1996 and 2002. They were available in 2 body styles; the 2-door roadster and the 2-door coupe.
The roughly 4.5-metre-long, 2-metre-wide car was only 112 cm tall. The car had an 8-litre, ten-cylinder engine with an output of approximately 450 HP. It reached 100 km/h in 4 seconds and had a top-end speed of 300 km/h.
The coupe model called GTS won numerous legendary automobile races.



  • 2012: Tesla Model S

Tesla Motors’ environmentally-friendly car, the Tesla Model S was announced in 2009. Production of the vehicles started in 2012. This five-door sedan weighs about 2,100 kg and measures nearly 5 metres in length and 2 metres in width.
The luxury limousine is driven by a fully environmentally-friendly, 416-HP electric engine. It is equipped with lithium-ion batteries and can travel around 400 km with a single charge.

The Tesla Model S won the prestigious World Green Car of the Year award in 2013. Beside its environmental footprint, another positive feature of the car is its highly robust body. It received a maximum score on the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s crash test.


The first automobile from the German engineer Carl Benz was completed in 1885. The three-wheel car had a steel structure. It was driven by a 1,600 cm³, four-phase motor at a speed of 13 km/h.

The Ford Motor Company started producing the Model T in 1908. A number of variations were produced.
The body of the car was mostly made of steel, while the wheels were made of wood covered with tyres. The heart of the model was a 2.9-litre, four-cylinder engine. With its 20-horsepower engine, the vehicle could reach a speed of 70 km/h.

The Citroën 15CV was introduced by the French automobile company in 1938. The welded, self-supporting body weighed around 1,100 kg. The model could reach a speed of 100 km/h with its 2.9-litre, 6-cylinder engine.

The sports coupe version of the second generation Bel Air model was introduced by the Chevrolet division of the American General Motors company in 1957. Symbolising the American dream, the car had a 4.3-litre, 8-cylinder engine with an output of 162 HP.

The Nuova Cinquecento model (Fiat 500) was launched in 1971 by Italy’s Fiat. It was less than 3 metres long and weighed only 500 kg. This economy car was powered by a 500 or 600 cm³ engine.

The Model 190 from the German Mercedes-Benz company has become one of the symbols of the 1980s. Many variants were produced. Its engine had a capacity of at least 1,800 cm³, an output of 100 HP with a top-end speed of 200 km/h.

The Dodge division of the American Chrysler company manufactures the Viper model. The second generation Vipers were manufactured between 1996 and 2002. The sports car had an 8-litre, ten-cylinder engine with a top-end speed of 300 km/h.

The production of Tesla Motors’ Model S started in 2012 in the USA. It is driven by a 416-HP electric engine. The top-end speed of this environmentally-friendly car is around 200 km/h.

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