The History of Automobiles


Automobiles are wheeled motor vehicles that are used for transportation. Most definitions say that they are motorized vehicles that run on the road and seat one to eight people. They also have four wheels and are used mostly for transportation. These vehicles were first invented by Henry Ford in the early 19th century, but were not the first to be made.

Henry Ford invented the automobile

The car is a symbol that many people associate with Henry Ford. Ford is credited with bringing the automobile to the masses, making it possible for millions of people to drive. Without his invention, the world would look much different than it does today. Country highways would not be as extensive, and city centers would not be clung to by sprawling suburbs. Long lines at drive-through restaurants would be a thing of the past.

Daimler engines were the foundation of the motor industry

Daimler and Maybach began working together in 1882 after the merger between Deutz-AG and Daimler. They bought a cottage in Cannstatt, Wurttemberg, with 75,000 Gold marks, and made it into a workshop. In 1885, they fitted a Daimler engine to a narrow-gauge trolley, and in 1887 they applied the same engine to an airship made by Dr. Wolffert, believed to be the first aircraft to use a petrol engine.

George Baldwin Selden designed the first three-wheeled car in 1877

Although George Baldwin Selden did not actually build his vehicle, he claimed to have patented the vehicle and its engine. His invention was essentially an electric-powered cab, and he sought to collect royalties from budding automobile manufacturers for the privilege of using the patent. Eventually, he negotiated a royalty of 0.75% of the selling price of all cars through the Association of Licensed Automobile Manufacturers.

Henry Ford patented a four-wheeled car in 1885

Henry Ford, a native of Michigan, had little formal training in engineering, but he had spent a lot of time in a small machine shop as a child. At just fifteen years of age, he built his first steam engine and was a machinist’s apprentice. His job included sculpting brass valves on a milling machine. He spent the next year working on steam engines at Westinghouse, a company in southern Michigan.

George Baldwin Selden designed the first four-wheeled car in 1885

George Baldwin Selden’s design was based on the Brayton engine, but it had some critical differences. While the Brayton engine had a separate cylinder for compression and intake, Selden’s engine was designed to provide gas vapor at a constant pressure. The engine was still too large to power a vehicle, so Selden designed a smaller version that could run one horsepower. The resulting car weighed 370 pounds and operated feebly.

George Baldwin Selden patented the first three-wheeled car in 1885

After the Civil War, George Baldwin Selden began to study horseless locomotion. At the time, there had been no such thing as a three-wheeled car. Instead, passenger carrying highway locomotives were ponderous affairs, driven by steam and serviced by a crew of engineers. As a result, horse frighteners were popularized around 1824, when they were largely legislated out of existence. However, steam carriages had been built as early as 1769 and Trevethick had patented one in 1802.

Henry Ford patented the first four-wheeled car in 1885

While the invention of the automobile can’t be traced back to one particular person, moment, or place, historians credit Karl Benz with creating the first internal combustion engine vehicle in 1885. In 1938, the Daimler-Benz Company gave Henry Ford a Benz Motorwagen replica to commemorate his 75th birthday. The replica is a one-fifth scale model of the first car built by Karl Benz.