The History of Automobiles for Kids
Have you ever thought about what the world would be like if cars didn't exist? People use them to get to work, to get to school, and to visit their friends. Without them, businessmen would still be walking to work or riding there on horses. Luckily for us, cars do exist, and they've only continued to get better as more people work on them and invent new ways to help them run more smoothly. After all, the first car wasn't nearly as fancy as cars built today.
People had been thinking about cars since the Renaissance age. An Italian named Guido da Vigevano recorded plans for a wind-propelled vehicle in 1335; even Leonardo da Vinci created designs for a sort of gear-propelled tricycle; but, the first real car was built in 1769 by a French inventor called Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot. The "car" was actually a three-wheeled tractor that could only go 2 miles per hour, which is slower than the regular walking speed of a person! Because of this inventors like Karl Benz got to work. Benz was a German inventor who came up with the first patent for a gasoline-powered motorcar in 1886, and he began selling his cars in 1888. Inventing and making history were common for the Benz family; his wife, Bertha Benz, was the first person to make a long distance automobile trip. She took one of Benz's cars and drove it 66 miles, and invented brake lining along the way.
It was another German who created the four-stroke engine we see in most cars. Nikolaus Otto created his engine in 1876, and because it was the first practical gas-powered engine, it made a huge impact on the way cars worked. Word of the invention spread, and clever businessmen began opening shops to sell gas-powered automobiles. The first company to do this on a large scale in America was Olds Motor Works, which was started by Ransom E. Olds in 1897. By 1901, the company had sold 425 of their Oldsmobile cars.
The Oldsmobile was popular, but the man who made the automobile something almost every house had to have was American businessman Henry Ford. Ford began experimenting with his own "Ford Quadricycle" in 1896. By 1901, Ford had refined the design to create a 26-horsepower car that could even be raced. A little bit later he presented the car to the public and created the Henry Ford Company. This company later became the Cadillac Automobile Company.
Not one to stay sad, Ford created another business in 1903: The Ford Motor Company. It was this company that created and introduced the Model T automobile in 1908. The Model T was easy to drive, and cheap to repair. The car itself sold for only $895! Americans quickly began to purchase and use the Model T in their daily lives. The hype over the car began to die down by 1926, so Ford released a new design, the Ford Model A, in 1927.
As the 1930s began, cars became fancier to help attract buyers. Eventually more options were added like more color options and different types of materials for the inside of the car. A popular car was created in 1938 by Austrian-German Dr. Ferdinand Porsche, founder of the Porsche Company. His creation, the Volkswagen Beetle, was designed to be fast, and became one of the most popular cars of the 20th century.
The 1950s were when cars weren't just for transportation anymore. Cars could now be "convertibles" with removable tops, and in 1957, power steering, power brakes, and air conditioning were new features that made cars even more user friendly. By the 1960s cars were back to being made to work better, and weren't made with as much importance being put on how nice they looked.
Cars have changed a lot over the years. Today cars are even better and use a lot less gas than they did before. Hybrid cars, like the Toyota Prius, use gas and electricity.
For more information on the history of cars see the links below: