The History Of The Car: A Timeline


Have you ever wondered how we went from the very first automobile to all the slick contemporary cars we have on our roads today? The history of the care sure is a really interesting one, so we thought we’d go ahead and put all of the main events onto one easy to understand timeline.

So, without further ado, let’s go back to where it all started – the very beginning of the car!


Did you know that there were very early automobiles being tested at the end of the 18th century? It’s true! However, they didn’t really look like the cars that we know today. In actual fact, they looked a lot more like the carriages that used to be pulled by horses. People realized that if you added an engine to the carriages, then you wouldn’t need any horses to pull them. These were known as ‘horseless carriages’ but didn’t really catch on.


So, the ‘horseless carriages’ didn’t really take off and most people stuck to having theirs pulled by horses. However, there was a really big breakthrough almost a century later in 1876. This was when a German engineer, Nikolaus Otto, invented an internal engine that used petrol energy. This was the first time that one of these engines had been able to be produced in a way that made it useable internally. Eventually, this technology was being tested in experimental cars. They all used petrol as their main fuel source.



It didn’t take long for engineers and mechanics to finetune these early petrol cars and by 1885 they were being rolled out to the public. The main producer was Karl Benz in Mannheim, Germany. These very first cars look nothing like the ones we drive today. They only have three wheels and their wheels look more like those on a bicycle. They were also incredibly slow. In fact, they couldn’t go more than 10 mph – that’s not much faster than a regular walking pace!


Even though the very first road race took place in France in 1895, the world’s first official racing track opened in Britain in 1907. It was at Brooklands and there is now a museum in its place. When car racing first began, the racers simply used normal cars. However, before long, specialist racing cars were being developed and manufactured. One of the very first racing cars ever made was the Bugatti Type 35. This car was first used in racing in the 1920s and went on to become very famous after a string of important wins, including the 1926 Grand Prix Championship.
Vintage Car



1908 was a very important year in the history of the car as it was when Henry Ford’s iconic Ford Model T was produced. It was a lot more reliable than the cars that had come before it, and it was also a lot better to drive. It was also widely available as it was the very first car that was mass-produced on a production line. By 1913, it is estimated that around 10,000 cars were leaving the factory every day. This mass production helped to bring the cost of making the cars down, which reduced their value. Finally, the car was now affordable for regular families. Ford stopped making this particular car in 1927. By this point, he had produced around 15 million of them!


Right from the beginning of cars, there were two sets of people – those who just wanted to use their car as a reliable form of transport and those who wanted an auto that would offer plenty of speed. In the 1920s, the latter group of people started to be catered for. This decade saw the very first sports cars being produced. They looked a lot different from other kinds of cars as they were designed to be more streamlined. They were also often longer as they needed more space to store their larger engines. Good weight distribution was also required for the cars to go faster, so most designs had the driver’s seat over the rear wheels. These days, car manufacturing and designing have become a lot more sophisticated. As a result, the driver doesn’t always have to sit over the rear wheels, and the engine can be positioned anywhere in the car.

The 1930s

The 1930s saw the arrival of the Volkswagen Beetle, which is the most popular car that has ever been made. It was first designed in the 1930s by the famous engineer, Ferdinand Porsche. However, it wouldn’t be manufactured and sold until the 1940s as production was put on hold during the Second World War. The car was finally available for the public to buy in 1945. The name ‘Volkswagen’ comes from the German for ‘people’s car’. It was very cheap to run, which made it extremely popular with regular families. It was also incredibly hardy and would rarely break down, something again which made it popular with families on a budget.


When cars were first invented, their sole purpose was just to get people from A to B. However, that soon began to change. In the 1940s, cars were being developed and manufactured specifically so that they could be useful in certain industries. In this decade, engineers started to make cars with specific purposes and jobs. For instance, this is the decade in which the very first police car, ambulance, and taxi were used by the public. The very first pickup truck was also created in the 1940s. This had an open back so that workmen could use them to transport large pieces of equipment and tools. These were made with stronger chassis than regular cars, and some even required a much larger engine.



In most countries across the world, the 1950s were a very lucrative and prosperous time. As a result, most families had some disposable income left over every month. Many families wanted to show just how wealthy they were and one way they did this was by buying large cars and customizing them. Car parts such as tail lights, fins, electronic windows, and material roofs became very popular. Chrome and electronic gadgets were all the rage for cars! However, there was one big problem with these very large autos – they consumed a large amount of petrol! Petrol was cheap, though, and people had a lot of money spare, so they weren’t too bothered about buying it all of the time. Unfortunately, back then, not many people realized about the environmental effect all this driving would have on the planet!


In the 1960s, cars started to become famous. And this was mostly down to the movies. For example, James Bond is known for his beloved Aston Martin, which he started to drive in the 1964 movie Goldfinger. Since then, the Aston Martin has appeared in 50 James Bond films and is probably the most recognizable car in the world as a result. Another famous car has to be the DeLorean that appeared in the Back to the Future movies, however, this didn’t appear on our screens until the 1980s.



Cars continued to get faster and faster and, before long, people realized that there needed to be some road and traffic laws put in place to keep people safe. Even though there were some road and car acts put into place in the 1920s and 1930s, the majority laws that we have to obey today came into effect in the 1980s. The penalties for breaking these laws became much stricter and lots of people were required to find a lawyer to correctly represent them if they ever had to go to court. These laws included speed limits, alcohol limits, and other regulations that took road signs and traffic rules into consideration.

The Future

What does the future hold for cars and their drivers? Well, if the movies are anything to go by, it looks like flying cars might be on the cards. Flying cars have appeared in a number of different movies, such as Back to the Future, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and Harry Potter. But are these any nearer to being developed in real life? Well, in actual fact, they might not be too far away! The Terrafugia is a very compact plane that can fold up its wings. Once its wings are folded, it becomes a car. So far, this car cum plane has traveled 490 miles in a single flight. When it is on the ground, it can be driven at 65 mph and can be filled up at regular petrol stations. To be able to drive and fly this cool machine, you will need both a driver’s and pilot’s license. However, the company is working on the Terrafugia to see if it will be possible to roll it out to public users in the future.

As you can see, the history of the common car is very interesting indeed! And who knows where this journey will take us in the future? Only time will tell!

Leave a reply