Imagining a world without personal transportation is difficult. The invention of the automobile changed the course of history, and evidence of that effect shows in the way our country has been built. Roads and highways now connect us to friends and family members across the continent.
But how did we get to this point, where over 17 million vehicles are sold each year in the US? Let’s take a look back in time and see how automobiles have changed throughout history.
We all know that Henry Ford was one of the first true automobile designers, but German engineer Karl Benz actually invented the world’s first automobile in 1885. From then until 1910, most average citizens didn’t have access to these personal vehicles, mainly due to the expensive costs of parts and production. What made Ford so crucial within the industry was his invention of the assembly line, which made automobiles more affordable.
Henry Ford and his historic company produced the Model T from 1908 to 1927, selling over 15 million cars total. Each vehicle was precisely the same, meaning costs were low for both production and repairs—plus, the price of the Model T went down every year! This was the start of our country’s infatuation with vehicles, and it led to the Federal Highway Act of 1921.
Following the Model T’s run was a time of relatively little change in the auto industry. The automobile market took a hit during the Great Depression, and vehicle designs remained practical and lacked true character.
However, many people consider the 1950s to the 1970s as the golden years for vehicles. Companies began producing rides with unique colors, futuristic designs, and high-tech amenities. The birth of the muscle car captivated millions of Americans, popping up in all aspects of our pop culture. They featured powerful, screaming engines and enough room for the whole family. Instead of using the same car design over and over again, companies put out completely different models than those of their competition, leading to more variety. Plus, international businesses began globalizing their production, giving even more options for American consumers.
Currently, the automobile industry has taken a step back due to worldwide part shortages. However, up until the pandemic, we witnessed the next era of vehicle design. Autos these days prioritize amenities and technology, meaning that most companies produce vehicles relatively similar to those of their competitors. But this boom in high-tech features is quite impressive, as an affordable car in 2022 comes standard with cameras, seat warmers, adaptive suspension systems, keyless entry, and eco-boosted engines. Some vehicles, such as convertible Jeep Wranglers and other all-terrain rides, are incredibly flexible for any situation.
As automobiles continue to evolve, we’ll may see features that will once again change our society forever, such as self-driving technology. While we still don’t have flying cars, the characteristics of new models are indeed more impressive than those of the early days of the Model T.
What is your favorite age of autos, and why are models from that time period so appealing to you? You might be able to solidify your opinion by understanding how automobiles have changed throughout history.