The history of the automobile
In 1886, Karl Friedrich Benz invented a horse-drawn three-wheeled carriage in Mannheim. At the time, people laughed at him for his crazy idea.
Benz gives his invention the name “automobile”.
The term “auto” is Greek and means “by itself”, while “mobile” is of Latin origin and means “on the move”. An automobile therefore moves by itself.
At first, we do not know what such a vehicle is for. 125 years ago, people traveled either by stagecoach or by train, the train being very modern at the time.
Most therefore consider the automobile as an insignificant invention. But evolution proves that these opinions were false.
Gottlieb Daimler also builds a horse-drawn carriage
In 1885, Gottlieb Daimler had the same idea, in Stuttgart: in collaboration with his employee, the inventor Nikolaus August Otto, he developed a petrol engine, the four-stroke engine (or Otto engine).
As for Carl Benz, he perfected the four-stroke engine and integrated it into a tricycle. At the same time, it builds all the essential components for a car to run: the ignition of gasoline by a strong electric spark, the cooling of the engine by water, the clutch, the steering wheel and many others .
Unbeknownst to her husband, in 1888 Bertha Benz embarked on the first long journey in the history of the automobile, accompanied by her two sons Eugen and Richard. She travels from Mannheim to Pforzheim and back. The automobile survives the test without great difficulty, but must be pushed to climb the ribs. Benz presented his invention at technical fairs and the World Fair in Paris, but failed to sell his “horse-drawn carriage”. It was only with the later-built four-wheel model that it became commercially successful.
The brilliant idea of Henry Ford
Until 1910, automobiles were made individually by mechanics. Each of them is therefore a piece-by-piece production, which makes it unique, but also very expensive. At the start of the last century, only a few people could afford to buy a car. American Henry Ford recognizes that the car can be useful for many people. So it has to be cheaper. And Ford has a truly pioneering idea: mass production of cars.
Thanks to chain assembly, several cars can be produced per day. The Ford Model T becomes a great commercial success. In 1908, the price of the car, also known as “Tin Lizzy” (“Elise en tôle”) was still $ 850. After the introduction of the assembly line, it costs only US $ 300.
There are more and more people who can realize their dream of owning their own car. In the spring of 1927, after almost 20 years, the last Ford T model left the workshops, having been sold more than 15 million times. This record was not beaten until 1972 by the Volkswagen Beetle.
The Trabant, a cult car
The Trabant was born in 1958 and will be sold in more than three million copies until 1992.
It’s a car designed to be affordable for everyone. At the time, the Trabant was one of the most modern automobiles, with a body built from a globally innovative material, Duroplast. Its hull is therefore not made of wood or sheet metal, but of a lighter compound plastic. A two-cylinder two-stroke engine is at work to propel it.
As you hardly get any other type of car in the GDR (Democratic Republic of Germany), the Trabant records breathtaking sales. To buy a completely new Trabant (or Trabi), you have to order it several years in advance. Its relatively simple construction allows a large number of DIY enthusiasts to repair it without difficulty.
The production of the Trabant underwent little change, so that a car that was initially modern gradually became a classic car. From the 1980s, the Trabant was available in a convertible version. Some amateurs transform it either into a van or into a stretch limousine. A unique series of racing cars caused a stir until the 1990s and gave the Trabant its nickname “racing carton”.
The 2 CV
After the Second World War, Citroën wants to create an inexpensive car capable of transporting two peasants and 100 kilograms of products to the market, in wooden clogs and
by unpaved paths if necessary. She must be able to cross a plowed field without breaking eggs in a basket. Result: the two-horse.
More colloquially known as “deuche” or “deudeuche”, the Citroën 2 CV has an engine equivalent to that of two horses.
The 2 CV makes friends around the world
Produced in France from 1948, the 2 CV soon had many friends. It is not only advantageous, but also offers a lot of space, even for large passengers. In summer, simply open the hood to transform it into a convertible.
It soon became a car with the most unique appearance on the market and marked the French roads until the 1980s. More than 5 million 2 CV were produced until 1990, the official end of production. The Citroën 2 CV no longer meets modern requirements in terms of consumption, safety and ecology.
Developed in the early 1930s by Ferdinand Porsche, the Beetle is designed to become a “people’s car”. That means it has to please everyone but stay
affordable. However, World War II ended the dreams of its inventor. It wasn’t until after the war that the Volkswagen went into production. 1945 saw the start of mass production: the Beetle set out to conquer the world.
The birth of the Beetle marks the start of an unparalleled success story in the automotive industry. Ten years after its launch, the millionth Beetle leaves the workshops in
She enjoys enormous popularity which is not limited to Germany, her country of origin. As time went by, Volkswagen established factories for the Beetle all over the world: in Belgium, Brazil, Australia, Ireland, New Zealand, South Africa, Uruguay, Venezuela, Peru, in Portugal, the Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, Nigeria, Costa Rica, Indonesia, Thailand, Yugoslavia and Mexico.
The Ladybug, movie star
The Beetle incidentally becomes a movie star: in the “Herbie” movie series, the white Volkswagen is not just a car, but a main protagonist with his own “will” and special abilities.
It rolls and it rolls…
After more than 30 years, production of the Beetle came to an end in Wolfsburg in 1978. It had to give way to the Volkswagen Golf, which surpassed it in sales figures. Almost 50 years after its development, it no longer corresponds to the state of the art.
But despite everything, the manufacturing of the Beetle continues: in Mexico. In 1981, production reached 20 million units. The last Beetle left the workshops permanently in 2003, in Puebla, Mexico. It will likely remain the longest-running car in the world.
As the name suggests, this automobile is small, if not tiny. But its interior space is a miracle, seating four people properly.
The Austin Mini was born in 1959. Originally designed to allow its passengers to travel at low cost, it then set out to conquer the whole world, proving to humanity that it is capable of doing well more.
The Mini conquers motorsport
The Mini Cooper sports version participated in the Monte Carlo Rally in 1964. It was not limited to staying at the height of large cars, but won the race with a sensational victory.
The Beatles and their Mini
During the sixties, the Mini was very popular. Beato drummer Ringo Starr is also very proud of his Mini Break.
To the delight of its loyal enthusiasts, the manufacture of the Mini continued until the 1980s. The official end of production in autumn 2000 led to a wave of protests. A new edition of the Mini has been on sale since 2001. Today, it is no longer the British company Austin, but the German car manufacturer BMW which has resumed production.