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Fascinating facts about the invention of the modern
Automobile by Gottlieb Daimler and Karl Benz in 1889.
AUTOMOBILE
First 4 Wheel Automobile - 1889
In terms of the lives of average people, there is little doubt that the automobile is the most revolutionary invention in the history of transportation since the wheel. The basic premise of the automobile is simple; choose a wheeled vehicle from the many types typically pulled by horses or oxen, add a motor and create a self-propelled, personal transportation vehicle.
The earliest ancestor of the modern automobile is probably the Fardier, a three-wheeled, steam-powered, 2.3-mph vehicle built in 1771 by Nicolas Joseph Cugnot for the French minister of war.  This cumbersome machine was never put into production because it was much slower and harder to operate than a horse-drawn vehicle.

Amedee Bollee, also a Frenchman, built an improved 12-passenger steam car in 1873, but the steam engine proved impractical for a machine that was intended to challenge the speed of a horse-and-buggy.  The invention of the practical automobile had to await the invention of a workable internal combustion engine.

First Automoblie Patent - 1886 The milestone vehicle was built in Germany in 1889 by Gottlieb Daimler and Wilhelm Maybach.  Powered by a 1.5 hp, two-cylinder gasoline engine, it had a four-speed transmission and traveled at 10 mph.  Another German, Karl Benz, also built a gasoline-powered car the same year. The gasoline-powered automobile, or motor car, remained largely a curiosity for the rest of the nineteenth century, with only a handful being manufactured in Europe and the United States. 
The first automobile to be produced in quantity was the 1901 Curved Dash Oldsmobile, which was built in the United States by Ransom E. Olds. Modern automobile mass production, and its use of the modern industrial assembly line, is credited to Henry Ford of Detroit, Michigan, who had built his first gasoline-powered car in 1896.  Ford began producing his Model T in 1908, and by 1927, when it was discontinued, over 18 million had rolled off the assembly line.

TO LEARN MORE

RELATED INFORMATION:
Henry Ford, Inventor Profile   from The Great Idea Finder
Transportation History   from The Great Idea Finder

ON THE BOOKSHELF:
100 Inventions That Shaped World History
by Bill Yenne, Morton, Dr. Grosser (Editor) / Paperback - 112 pages (1983)
/ Bluewood Books
This book contains inventions from all around the world from microchips to fire. This is a really good book if you are going to do research on inventions.

Popular Patents
by Travis Brown / Paperback - 224 pages / Scarecrow Press (September 1, 2000)
Eighty stories of America's first inventions. Each includes a sketch of the invention, a profile of the inventor and a glimpse of how the invention has found its way into American culture.

Wheels of Time: A Biography of Henry Ford  (Limited availabilty.)
by Catherine Gourley / Library Binding - 48 pages / Millbrook Press - 1997
In association with the Henry Ford Museum to provide an accurate account of her subject's life while relating an interesting story.
Setting the Pace: Oldsmobile's First 100 Years
by Helen Jones Earley, James R. Walkinshaw / Hardcover / Publications International - 1997
Excellent information about Oldsmobile's cars and people.
America on Wheels: The First 100 Years: 1896-1996
by Frank Coffey, Joseph Layden / Paperback - 304 pages / General Pub Group - 1998
Featuring three hundred archival color and black-and-white photographs, the companion volume to the PBS documentary chronicles the development of the American automobile, with contributions by past and present pioneers in the industry.
Classic American Cars

by Quentin Willson, Matthew Ward / Hardcover - 192 pages (October 1997) /DK Publishing
Celebrating 60 of America's best-loved automobiles, this full-color car show spotlights the most glamourous cars of the golden era from 1945-1975.
The Art of the Automobile: The 100 Greatest Cars
by Dennis Adler (Photographer) / Hardcover: 256 pages / Harper Entertainment; (May 2, 2000)
Award-winning automotive historian, author, and photographer Dennis Adler takes you on a whirlwind tour through more than a century of automotive history, from the first production motorcar, the 1886 Benz Patent Motorwage, to fabled makes including Hispano-Suiza, Duesenberg, packard, and Hudson
My Father Mr. Mercedes ( Limited availability.)
by Guy Jellinek-Mercedes /  Hardcover /  G. T. Foulis & Co (1966)
In next to no time he was the sole agent for Daimler outside Germany; in fact it was he who gave the name of his daughter to all the cars which he bought for re-sale from the Daimler Company thus establishing for all time the world-renowned car which carries the three pointed star. Later he was to add the name to his own and became known as Emil Jellinek-Mercedes

ON THE SCREEN:
Car Tech
DVD / 1 Volume Set / 100 Minutes / History Channel / Less than $30.00
This two-hour tour through the automotive future is peppered with exotic visions and groundbreaking engineering advances, from hyper-efficient vehicles with revolutionary drive trains to alternate fuel sources and the most radical designs currently coming off the drawing boards from Stuttgart to Detroit.


ON THE WEB:
DaimlerChrysler
The corporate site for the merged Daimler-Benz and Chrysler car companies. The most extensive corporate history site we have found on the web. Lots of COOKIES at this site.
(URL: www.daimlerchrysler.com)
Gottlieb Daimler
The man who is widely credited with pioneering the modern automobile industry apparently did not like to drive and may never have driven at all.
(URL: www.autonews.com/files/euroauto/inductees/daimler.htm)
Karl Benz
On January 29, 1886, Karl Benz registered his patent DRP 37435, for a three-wheeler with a four-stroke 0.9 PS engine. DRP 37435 patent today is recognized as the official birth certificate of the motor car.
(URL: www.autonews.com/files/euroauto/inductees/benz.htm)
Automotive Hall of Fame
The Automotive Hall of Fame recognizes and celebrates accomplished individuals in the world-wide motor vehicle industry; a unique "people place" of innovation and inspiration.
(URL: www.automotivehalloffame.org)
European Automotive Hall of Fame
Provided to the public by Automotive News newspaper.
(URL: www.autonews.com/files/euroauto/index.html)
Mercedes Benz for Kids
The Mercedes-Benz kids site has an interactive museum where you can see and hear the very first cars! Great place to learn about cars in a fun and informative way. And, Cedy is a great host.
The Auto Channel
Their goal is to create what can currently best be described as an interactive television network; with full motion video, high quality audio, multi-point AV user communication, and comprehensive information archives.
(URL: www.theautochannel.com/)
Ford Motor Company
Everything you ever wanted to know about Ford Motor Company. Lots of COOKIES at this site.
(URL: www.ford.com)
Oldsmobile
The official web site of General Motors, Oldsmobile Division. The end of an era.
(URL: www.oldsmobile.com)

HOW IT WORKS:
How Car Stuff Works
by Marshall Brain at How Stuff Works courtesy of The Auto Channel
.

DID YOU KNOW?:

  • January 29, 1886  For his three-wheel motor carriage Karl Benz receives the patent DRP No. 37435, the "birth certificate" of the automobile.
  • March 8, 1886  Gottlieb Daimler orders a coach from coach makers Wilhelm Wimpff & Sohn in Stuttgart and has it equipped with a fast-running engine. It is the first four-wheeled automobile.
  • September 29, 1888  After acquiring the Daimler patent licenses for the U.S.A., the piano maker William Steinway founded the "Daimler Motor Company" at Long Island, New York.
  • The Selden automobile was never manufactured even though the first United States patent for an automobile was awarded to George B. Selden on an application filed May 8th, 1879. Selden licensed and collected royalities from all U.S.auto manufactures until a court decision in 1911.
  • Patent # 1,975,837 isssued October 9, 1934 for Ford V-8 Engine
Reference Sources in BOLD Type This page revised March, 2005.
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