The birth of the
car as we know it today occurred over a period of years. It was only in 1885
that the first real car rolled down on to the streets. The earlier attempts,
though successful, were steam powered road-vehicles.
The first self-propelled car was built by Nicolas Cugnot in 1769
which could attain speeds of upto 6 kms/hour. In 1771 he again designed
another steam-driven engine which ran so fast that it rammed into a wall,
recording the worlds first accident.
In 1807 Francois Isaac de Rivaz designed the first internal combustion
engine. This was subsequently used by him to develop the worlds first
vehicle to run on such an engine, one that used a mixture of hydrogen and
oxygen to generate energy.
This spawned the birth of a number of designs based on the internal
combustion engine in the early nineteenth century with little or no degree
of commercial success. In 1860 thereafter, Jean Joseph Etienne Lenoir built
the first successful two-stroke gas driven engine. In 1862 he again built an
experimental vehicle driven by his gas-engine, which ran at a speed of 3
kms/hour. These cars became popular and by 1865 could be frequently espied
on the roads.
The next major leap forward occurred in 1885 when the four stroke engine
was devised. Gottileb Damlier and Nicolas Otto worked together on the
mission till they fell apart. Daimler created his own engines which he used
both for cars and for the first four wheel horseless carriage. In the
meanwhile, unknown to them, Karl Benz, was in the process of creating his
own advanced tri-cycle which proved to be the first true car. This car first
saw the light of the day in 1886.
The season of experiments continued across the seas in the United States
where Henry Ford began work on a horseless carriage in 1890. He went several
steps forward and in 1896, completed his first car, the Quadricycle in 1896.
This was an automobile powered by a two cylinder gasoline engine. The Ford
Motor Company was launched in 1903 and in 1908 he catapulted his vehicle,
Model T Ford to the pinnacle of fame. Continuing with his innovations, he
produced this model on a moving assembly line, thus introducing the modern
mass production techniques of the automobile industry.
The modern car, therefore comes from a long list of venerated ancestors,
and its lineage will, hopefully grow longer as we progress!