You are here:

FREE Newsletter

Inventors Automobile History
Automobile meets near Halliday, North Dakota

Model A Ford circa 1930

Featured Article
The History of Cars
Written by your guide: A multi-part feature on the history of automobiles starting with the first steam, electrical, and gasoline-engine cars. Learn the controversy behind discovering who was really first in car history and understand the importance of the internal combustion engine. The lives of many famous automotive makers are explored in detail with special pages on the assembly line, the origins of the name automobile, the patent disputes, and more. After reading this article try our fun automobile trivia quiz to test your knowledge.

Famous Automobile Makers
Nicolaus August Otto

Nicolaus August Otto invented the gas motor engine in 1876.

Gottlieb Daimler
In 1885, Gottlieb Daimler invented a gas engine that allowed for a revolution in car design.

Karl Benz (Carl Benz)
Karl Benz was the German mechanical engineer who designed and in 1885 built the world's first practical automobile to be powered by an internal-combustion engine.

John Lambert
America's first gasoline-powered automobile was the 1891 Lambert car invented by John W. Lambert.

Duryea Brothers
They founded America's first company to manufacture and sell gasoline-powered vehicles.

Henry Ford
Henry Ford improved the assembly line for automobile manufacturing (Model-T), invented a transmission mechanism, and popularized the gas-powered automobile.

Rudolf Diesel
Rudolf Diesel invented the diesel-fueled internal combustion engine.

Charles Franklin Kettering
Charles Franklin Kettering invented the first automobile electrical ignition system and the first practical engine-driven generator.

Automobile Timelines

Different Makes of Automobiles
Chrysler, Dodge, Plymouth & Desota automobiles.Plymouth Automobile 1939


Automobile Accessories and Parts
Mechanic at work on automobile in garage
WWII Car Mechanic
  • Air Bags
  • Air Conditioning in Cars The first car with an actual refrigeration system was the 1940 model year Packard.
  • Bendix Drive or Starter Drive
  • Brakes In 1901, British inventor Frederick William Lanchester patented disc brakes.
  • Car Radio In 1929, American Paul Galvin, the head of Galvin Manufacturing Corporation, invented the first car radio. The first car radios were not available from carmakers. Consumers had to purchase the radios separately. Galvin coined the name "Motorola" for the company's new products combining the idea of motion and radio. (early Motorola radio.)
  • Cruise Control
  • Differential
  • Driveshaft In 1898, Louis Renault invented the first driveshaft.
  • Electric Windows Daimler introduced electric windows in cars in 1948.
  • Fender In 1901, Frederick Simms invented the first car fender. Similar to the railway engine buffers of the period.
  • Fuel Injection The first electronic fuel injection system for cars was invented in 1966 in Britain.
  • The History of Gasoline
  • Heater Canadian Thomas Ahearn invented the first electric car heater in 1890.
  • Ignition
  • Internal-Combustion Engine
  • License Plates On April 25, 1901 the state of New York became the first state to require car license plates by law. The very first license plates were called number plates - first issued in 1893 in France by the police.
  • Spark Plug
  • 1930’s Superchargers
  • Muffler - Inventor Eugene Houdry
  • Odometer
  • Seat Belts/Safety Belts
  • Supercharger Ferdinand Porsche invented the first supercharged Mercedes-Benz SS & SSK sports cars in Stuttgart, Germany in 1923.
  • Third Brake Light In 1974, psychologist John Voevodsky invented the third brake light, a brake light that is mounted in the base of rear windshields. When drivers press their brakes, a triangle of light will warn following drivers to slow down.
  • Tires
  • Transmissions In 1832, W. H. James invented a rudimentary three-speed transmission. Panhard and Levassor are credited with the invention of the modern transmission - installed in their 1895 Panhard. On April 28, 1908, Leonard Dyer obtained one of the earliest patents for an automobile transmission.
  • Turn Signals Buick introduced the first electric turn signals in 1938.
  • Power Steering Francis W. Davis invented power steering. In the 1920s, Davis was the chief engineer of the truck division of the Pierce Arrow Motor Car Company, and he saw first hand how hard it was to steer heavy vehicles. Davis quit his job and rented a small engineering shop in Waltham, MA. He developed a hydraulic power steering system that led to power steering. Power steering became commercially available by 1951.
  • Windshield Wipers - Inventor Mary Anderson

Related Innovations
©Mary Bellis

From Mary Bellis,
Your Guide to Inventors.
FREE Newsletter. Sign Up Now!

Important disclaimer information about this About site.

Newsletters & RSSEmail to a friendAdd to
All Topics | Email Article | |
Our Story | Be a Guide | Advertising Info | News & Events | Work at About | Site Map | Reprints | Help
User Agreement | Ethics Policy | Patent Info. | Privacy Policy | Kids' Privacy Policy

©2006 About, Inc., A part of The New York Times Company. All rights reserved.
Mental Health

Depression Self-Test Vitamins for Depression? Bipolar Red Flags Coping With Disasters Celebrities With Bipolar

What's Hot

Gyroscopes - Elmer Sperry and Charles Stark Draper Gyroscope...Angel AlcalaThe History of the BikiniRusi Taleyarkhan Jack Johnson