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History of the Automobile

Brief History of European and American Auto Transportation


Part I : Early Automobile Transportation Development


The history of American auto transportation begins somewhat like early American history. For many year inventors focused using the power of steam. Somewhere around the year 1678’s, about the time when the early American colonies where taking hold in the New World, Ferdinand Verbiest, a Jesuit Priest, working for Chinese Emperor K’ang His, is credited for making the first self propelled steam powered vehicle. Not much is know about this early transportation device, but the French inventor Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot demonstrated a full-scale vehicle in 1769. For the next hundred years, the emphasis was on harnessing the power of steam.


The first American patent for an automobile transportation vehicle in was granted to Oliver Evans in 1789. In 1804, Evans demonstrated the first American transportation device powered by steam. Hence the birth of transportation in America is somewhat linked with early American ingenuity. The automobile historian mention that Evan traveled to Britain in the late 1700’s and passed on his ideas on the invention of steam powered transportation device to Richard Trevithick. The automobile history buffs credit Richard Trevithick with running a steam power carriage in 1801. However, London was not ready for these early methods of transportation. Early auto transportation vehicles were doomed in Britain because the London public could not tolerate these speedy transportation vehicles. Steam powered automobiles were never well received and automobile transportation was not considered practical. The transporting of people in motorized vehicles would take a lot more thought and persistence.


In Europe, the famous Belgian born inventor Etienne Lenoir made the first model of car with an internal combustion engine sometime around the beginning of American Civil War, in 1860. This was a coal-gas fired auto transportation device that was extremely slow in motion. The modern automobile really did get motorized with Nicolaus Otto, in 1876. Otto built the first practical four-stroke engine piston cycle engine. Can we say that the “automobile” is named after Mr. Otto? Well, the similarity of spelling between the “automobile” and the “ottomobile” would suggest such a coincidence. The modern car and motorized transportation devices did get its a major start  from the incredible Mr. Otto. It would be a fine tribute to Mr. Otto’s ingenuity and persistence to name a new series of European, German or American cars to celebrate his passion for the early development of the gasoline transport devices. The invention of the automobile was passed on from Mr. Otto to two employees by the name of Gottlieb Daimler and Maybach. Mr. Otto used his first engine to design a motorcycle. It seemed very appropriate at the time to put a motor on a bicycle. Otto and Daimler disagreed while working on the early automobile transportation vehicles. Daimler was trained as a mechanical engineer and Otto became jealous of his ideas on improving the development of these new transport vehicles. Gottlieb Daimler and Maybach had to start their own company. During the same time period around the year 1880, Carl Benz was also working on a two stroke gasoline powered combustion engine. Lots of new mechanical devices had to be invented to make the early “car” transporter possible. They had to consider many parts in the design of the car. But Daimler and Benz saw the need for the use of a gasoline powered motorized device that looked like the European carriages of the time period. This early-motorized cars looked like a carriage with three wheel. Some of the early cars used large steel wheels and frame fabrication, something like a three wheel bicycle with a motor on the back. Fortunately, the four wheel motorized cars came about because were less likely to tip over than the three wheeled car transportation frame.



Yes, you may have heard of the Mercedes Benz automobile. The ingenuity of design in automobile transportation was greatly helped by the Mrs. Benz. One day, Ms. Benz decided to do what a modern woman is often known to do. Take your husband most prized possession and show it off to your friends. Yes, Ms. Benz traveled over 50 miles with the recently patented automobile that her husband had invented. Of course, she had to make a lot of stops at nearest pharmacy so that she could buy gasoline. The automobile engine, require fuel that was in very short supply in the late 1800’s and this fuel was commonly available at the pharmacy. Yes, automobile transportation has always been at the mercy of gasoline. It was around this same time period that a young man in Pennsylvania noticed that some black oil was rising to the ground. This black looking oil seemed to be combustible and he took it for analysis a chemist at the Massachussetts Institute of Technology. Within a short time, it was discovered that this black oil, Pennsylvania Crude Oil was volatile enough to be used in the popular gas lamps of the time period. Was the automobile the centerpiece of discovery in finding crude oil. Well, probably not. The discovery of crude oil in Pennsylvania was one of the greatest environmental benefits to our ecosystem at the time. Most of the oil used in oil lamps came from whale fishing, and the rate of whale fishing at the time could have destroyed the entire whale population. If mankind became greedy with the need for fuel in gas lamps and the approaching development of the transportation device such as the automobile, the Worlds Whale could have become extinct a century ago. Yes, the invention of the automobile came at a time when a source of fuel became readily available, and this is a Whale of a Tale. The invention of the first practical automobile and the discovery of petroleum products in Pennsylvania made it possible for the European and American automobile transportation industry possible. We are grateful that early transportation discovery in engine design of Otto, Daimler and Benz centered on the use of volatile compounds like gasoline.

Let go back to Otto, Daimler and Benz who pioneered the early automobile. Because Mrs. Benz took her famous drive, this prompted Mr. Benz to develop a better gear shift sifting for the early automobile. This resulted in a better early auto transportation vehicle and more sales for the company. Both Mr. Benz and Mr. Daimler were early pioneers by establishing the automobile transportation companies. Manny years later, Mr. Benz and Mr. Daimler combined their companies to what we know as the Daimler Benz Automobile Company.




Part II : The Development of Automobile Transport in the U.S.


(Not yet available)


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