Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot built a three wheeled
steam powered wagon.
An example is preserved at the
Musee des Arts et Metiers, Paris.
Richard Trevithick built a steam powered
(His later 1803 carriage had a road accident.)
- 1861, UK:
Speed limits of 10mph (16km/h) in the country and
5mph (8km/h) in town were imposed on powered vehicles.
- 1865, UK:
Speed limits were lowered to 4mph (country) and 2mph (town) and
a man on foot and carrying a red flag had to precede each vehicle
by 60 yards, esp. to warn those with horses.
(After 1878 the man on foot no longer needed to carry a flag.)
Starley and Sutton invent the Rover Safety Cycle (bicycle);
the company later developed into
- (An 1884 De Dion Bouton et Trepardoux Dos-a-Dos Steam Runabout,
claimed to be the world's oldest running car,
sold for us$4,620,000 at RM Auctions
Oct. 2011 Hershey sale.)
Karl Benz (1844-1929)
built a motorised tricycle driven by an
oil-spirit internal combustion engine in 1885.
This is widely held to be the first successful motor vehicle.
Gottlieb Daimler (1834-1900)
built a motorised bicycle in 1885 and a 4-wheel motor carriage
- 1892 August 26: Rudolf Diesel filed a patent application for
'a method of apparatus for converting heat into work,'
US letters patent #542,846, 16 July 1895, and,
filed 15 July 1895,
'internal combustion engine' #608,845, 9 August 1898 –
the compression-ignition, "diesel" engine.
- 1894: The first car race, Paris - Rouen,
was organized by the Petit Journal. (-- Paris Motor Show '12)
- 1896, UK: Speed limits
on light [road-] locomotives were raised from 4mph to 14mph and
they no longer needed to be preceded by a man on foot.
The first London to Brighton run was held in celebration.
- 1898: The Automobile Club de France (est.1895)
organised the 'World Show for automobiles, cycling and sports'.
220 exhibitors took part in what became the Paris Motor Show.
(-- Paris Motor Show '12)
The World Land Speed Record was set at 63.15km/h (39.24mph) by
Gaston the Comte de Chasseloup-Laubat driving a
Jeantaud electric car [Geo00].
- 1898: The Renault
Voiturette type A.
Latil (France) made front wheel drive units and then 4x4.
Tatra started manufacturing.
Camille Jenatzy and de Chasseloup-Laubat traded
Land Speed Records until Jenatzy raised it to 105.88km/h (65.75mph)
driving the electric La Jamais Contente
The car survives at the Compiegne Musee de la Voiture
Fabbrica Italiana Automobili Torino
(Fiat) was formed.
August Horch began a car company carrying his own surname in 1899;
it evolved into Auto-Union and
Ferdinand Porsche's La Toujours Contente
(Semper Vivus, always alive), built for Lohner and Co.,
had battery-power with four electric motors, one at each wheel.
He later patented the Mixte transmission in which
a petrol engine drove a dynamo and electric motors drove the wheels,
i.e., a series-hybrid.
It was too expensive for the day.
Porsche, the company, built a replica in 2011.
- 1900: Puch's first car.
Volume imports of cars began into Australia starting with
De Dion Boutons.
Leon Serpollet raised the Land Speed Record to 120.8km/h (75.06mph) in the
Easter Egg Gardner-Serpollet
- 1902: Mercedes registered as a trademark.
March 1, 1902, the first 40hp Mercedes Simplex ever built was supplied
to Emil Jellinek in Nice. It was named after Jellinek's daughter.
Charles Stewart Rolls starts up C.S. Rolls and Co., later
featured a 6-cylinder engine and four wheel drive!
Minerva started making cars.
- 1903: Ford, Model A.
- 1904: The organisation that would become the
Federation International de l'Automobile (FIA) in 1946 was founded.
- 1904: Rover 8hp.
Societa Italinana Automobili Darracq (SIAD) founded; it later
became Alfa Romeo
Vincenzo Lancia released his first car.
- 1906, June 26 & 27: The first Grand Prix (GP) on a
closed circuit (103km) was held at Le Mans.
It was won by Ferenc Szisz in a Renault.
Fred Marriott, driving a Stanley steam car,
at Daytona, raised the World Land Speed record to
his speed of 127.66mph over one mile was not recognised internationally.
(Also see Aug. 2009.)
- 1907: Felix and Norman Caldwell of South Australia
applied for a patent for four wheel drive with four wheel steering;
they went on to build
4x4 trucks with Henry Vale.
- 1907: The Peking to Paris car race was
won by an Itala [Bar72].
A 1908 Itala.
- 1908: "General Motors (GM)
was formed in the USA
in 1908 when William C. (Billy) Durant brought Oldsmobile and Buick together
to form General Motors Company. A year later, Cadillac and Oakland (which
became Pontiac in 1932) marques joined General Motors."
- 1908: Ford Model-T
- 1908: Harry Dutton and Murray Aunger drove from
Adelaide to Darwin
in a 25hp Talbot.
- 1909: Bugatti
built his first car.
- 1911: FWD
sold its first 4x4.
- 1911: First Indianapolis 500 race.
- 1912: The Manchester Wireless Telegraphy Institute
demonstrated "compact wireless telegraphy" from a car,
as reported in the Manchester Guardian, 18 April 1912,
reprinted 18 April 2012.
- 1913: Jeffrey
Quad 4x4 truck went into production.
- 1913: Bamford and Martin Ltd founded; later
became Aston Martin.
The Society Anonima Officine Alfieri Maserati, Bologna, was created by
the Maserati brothers.
- 1915: Big Lizzie road train (.au).
- 1917: First Oshkosh four wheel drive truck.
- 1919: Bentley
- 1921: DKW - scooters first.
- 1921 December: General Motors chemists discovered that
adding tetraethyl lead, (CH3CH2)4Pb,
to petrol boosted its octane rating
and reduced engine knocking. Leaded petrol was born.
Also see 2021 below.
- 1922: Citroen
crossed the Sahara, leaving from Touggourt in Algeria.
- 1922: Baby Austin 7.
- 1922: Swallow Sidecar Company founded;
later became Jaguar cars in 1945.
- 1923, May 26-27: First 24 hour race at Le Mans,
won by Andre Lagache and Rene Leonard in a Chenard & Walcker
at 92.06 km/h.
- 1924: Ernest Eldridge (GB),
driving the Fiat
special Mephistopheles (below) fitted with a 21.7-litre Fiat
airship engine, set a Land Speed Record of 234.98km/h (146.01mph).
- 1924: The first MG
car was built - on a modified Morris Oxford chassis.
- 1924, December 28: Citroen
left to traverse Africa.
- 1925: Chrysler founded.
- 1926, August 7: The first British Grand Prix was held at Brooklands.
- 1927: Henry Segrave driving
the "1000hp" Sunbeam
raised the World Land Speed Record to over 200mph — FIA.
Model-T production ended; 15 million Model Ts had been built
from 1908 to 1927.
- 1927-1928: Francis Birtles drove a Bean car from
England to Melbourne
taking 10 months.
Malcolm Campbell, driving Bluebird with a 950hp Napier engine,
raised the World Land Speed Record to 206.96mph.
started to build AWD trucks in conjunction with FWD (UK).
Henry Segrave driving the Golden Arrow raised the World Land Speed Record to
231.36mph (327.34km/h) — FIA.
- 1929: First Monaco Grand Prix was
won by Williams in a Bugatti
- 1931: Bentley
taken over by
- 1931: The Cummins Diesel Special finished 13th
in the Indianapolis 500.
- 1931-1932: Citroen-Haardt expedition, using Citroen
followed part of Marco-Polo's route from Beirut to Beijing.
Malcolm Campbell, driving the 1450hp Napier powered Bluebird,
raised the World Land Speed Record to 251mph (404km/h) — FIA.
Audi became part of Auto-Union, with DKW, Horch and Wanderer.
- 1932: Miller
4x4 racing cars at Indianapolis.
AEC road train
(one of three built) was brought to Australia. It consisted of an 8×8
prime-mover and two 8-wheel self-tracking trailers.
- 1934: Dodge started building 4WD trucks (-George Miles).
- 1934: Prototype PX-33 four wheel drive car
built for the Japanese government; the car did
not go into production (Mitsubishi).
Thanks to Balazs Toth.
Malcolm Campbell, in the Rolls-Royce powered Bluebird, raised the
World Land Speed Record to 301.129mph (484.620km/h) — FIA.
- 1936: Toyota's
first production car, the AA.
Svenska Aeroplan Aktiebolaget, aircraft factory founded, later became
‘Gesellschaft zur Vorbereitung des deutschen Volkswagens mbH’,
Company for the Development of the
German People's Car (VW),
was registered [Hop71].
- 1938: GAZ 61 - Russian 4x4.
The Jeep specifications
1940-1941: Bantam built 2700 light 4x4s, early "Jeeps".
built 700,000 General Purpose vehicles for WWII. GP became Jeep.
The Association Internationale des Automobiles Clubs Reconnus (AIACR)
became the Federation Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) — FIA.
- 1946, October 10:
Unimog introduced (- H. J. Feil);
also see 1951.
first car had a 1086cc 30kW VW engine.
- 1948: Jaguar XK120 launched.
- 1948: Holden 48-215.
- 1948: Ford released the 1st of the F-Series vehicles.
- 1950: The Ford GPA, or amphibious Jeep,
was "driven" across the Atlantic ocean by Ben and Elinore Carlin.
This is true!
- 1950: Rover built the
car Jet 1.
- 1950: VW Transporter lays down the foundations of the hippy era.
- 1950: The first round of the inaugural
FIA Formula One (F1) World Championship
was held at Silverstone on 13 May;
the seven-race season included
Monaco, Switzerland, Belgium, France, Italy and the Indianapolis 500.
"Nino" Farina, driving an
Alfa Romeo 158,
won the first race, and the championship.
First Toyota Landcruiser
was built under the BJ Jeep name.
The LandCruiser name came in 1954.
- 1951: Daimler Benz ("Mercedes") took over
Unimog; also see 1948.
- 1952: Suzuki's
- 1952 March 12:
Launch of the racing sports car version of the Mercedes Benz 300SL
(of the gullwing doors).
- 1953: The first Redex Reliability Trial was held.
Competitors had two weeks to cover 11,000km taking them
Ken Tubman and John Marshall won in a Peugeot 203.
The amphibious Jeep La Tortuga "drove" from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego.
- 1955-1956: London to Singapore Overland
(except for the Channel!) in
- 1955: Suzuki's first car.
- 1955: The wonderful
- 1955 December 5: The 8 mile Preston by-pass
(part of the M6) opened – the UK's first stretch of motorway.
The first stretch of the M1 opened on 2 November 1959
- 1956: The Suez crisis; the canal was blocked until 1957.
- 1958: The first Formula 1 (F1) Constructors' Cup
was won by Vanwall (uk).
- 1958: First Toyota
imported into Australia.
- 1959: BMC Mini went on sale.
- 1960: A Jeep and a Land-Rover traversed the Darien Gap.
- 1960: Ford Falcon XK.
- 1960: The first British traffic wardens
took up duty in September.
Jaguar E-type unveiled
at the Geneva Motor Show.
- 1961: Stirling Moss drove a Ferguson
Project 99 (P99)
with the Ferguson 4WD system to victory in the Oulton Park Gold-Cup race.
A Rover-BRM gas-turbine
car competed in the 1963 Le Mans 24-hour race.
- 1963:Chrysler built
"50 identical [experimental] 1963 'Turbine Cars' –
two-door Chrysler coupes painted in 'Turbine Bronze' livery.
They were demonstrated to the public at the 1964 World's Fair."
— SAE 3/2019.
- 1964, 17 July:
Donald Campbell in Bluebird (4WD) raised the World Land Speed Record
to 403mph at Lake Eyre, Australia.
it went on to become a classic.
- 1964: Mini Moke
went on sale.
- 1965: VW bought Audi.
- 1965: Craig Breedlove in the jet car
Spirit of America set a World Land Speed Record of
600.601mph (966.574km/h) — FIA.
The Jensen FF road car
had Formula Ferguson 4WD and
Dunlop Maxaret anti-lock brakes (ABS).
- 1967, January 4: Donald Campbell (1921-1967)
was killed while attempting to raise the world water speed record
to over 300mph on Coniston Water, uk.
- 1969: Ferrari
joined the Fiat group.
- 1969, 20 July: The lunar module, Eagle, from Apollo 11
landed on the moon carrying Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin.
released - luxury full-time 4WD.
- 1970, 20 November: Legislation for mandatory seat belts
was introduced into the Victorian Parliament and soon passed
- 1971: Lunar rover "car" on the moon
in the Apollo 15 mission.
Ford Falcon XY ute 4WD (.au).
- 1971-1972: British Trans-Americas Range Rover expedition.
The Darien Gap was the most difficult section.
- 1973: In October OAPEC declared an oil embargo
and the price went from us$3 to us$12/barrel by early 1974
– the first "oil shock" or crisis.
- 1974: Subaru Leone 4x4 car.
The .au Gvmt introduced import parity pricing
for local oil and petrol reached au$0.21/litre
[the Age p.5 1/1/2009]
– $0.95 per (imperial)
- 1979: Second oil shock or crisis as Iranian production
fell following the Iranian revolution.
- 1979: AMC produced
the Eagle 4x4 car.
- 1981: The specifications for
the High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle
(HMMWV) was issued;
later known as the Humvee or Hummer.
- 1981: Audi revolutionized rallying with
the Quattro 4WD rally car.
- 1981: Porsche showed the Porsche 911 AWD
concept car at the Frankfurt Motor Show.
- 1983, January 31: The UK made the use of seat belts,
in front seats, compulsory.
(Seat belts had been fitted to cars for decades,
and compulsorily so since 1968.)
- 1983: Land-Rover
coil-sprung, full-time 4WD.
- 1983: Richard Noble, driving the jet car Thrust2,
raised the World Land Speed Record to 1019.47km/h
Black Rock Desert,
- 1984: A Porsche 911 AWD won the Paris Dakar rally.
- 1986: Porsche 959 AWDs finished
1, 2 and 6 in the Paris Dakar rally.
- 1986, October: The 117 mile M25 (London Orbital)
was completed; the 1st section was opened in 1975.
- 1991: The Mazda 787B became the first, and only,
rotary-engined (Wankel) car to win the
Le Mans 24-hour race.
McLaren F1 rewrote
the super-car rule book.
was bought by Fiat from
- 1994: BMW bought
Rover Group from BAe.
Lotus was taken over by Proton.
- 1996: The new Jeep
got coil springs.
Thrust SSC, driven by Andy Green, broke the sound barrier and
raised the World Land Speed Record to 1227.985kph (763.035mph),
Mach 1.0175 under the prevailing
- 1998: Bentley bought by VW. Is nothing sacred?
BMW pulled a swifty and
bought the Rolls Royce name (for cars).
- 1998: Bugatti name bought
Chrysler and Mercedes-Benz merged to form DaimlerChrysler
(splitting up again in 2007).
- 1999: Volvo
cars sold to Ford.
BMW sold LandRover
to Ford, and
Phoenix (soon to crash and burn).
BMW put the retro. new Mini on sale in Europe (.au in 2002).
- 2001 July:
Rolls-Royce and Bentley Motor Cars announced details of the last
Rolls-Royce Silver Seraph model to commemorate 97 years of Rolls-Royce cars;
production ends with 2001. VW continued to build Bentleys but
future Rolls Royces were to be built at BMW's new factory.
Rolls-Royce became pure BMW, and Bentley pure Volkswagen.
Crude oil rose as high as us$147/barrel
in July before falling to the us$30s at year's end as
the global financial crisis (GFC) bit.
- 2008: Needing cash, Ford sold
Tata of India.
- 2009, January 29:
The Skycar, a "buggy" fitted with a parafoil wing, flew
the Straits of Gibraltar en route from Paris to Tombouctou (Timbuktu).
- 2009: General Motors (GM) and
Chrysler passed into bankruptcy and
were restructured, the latter forming an alliance
began a merger.
- 2009, August 25 & 26:
The British Steam Car
raised the Land Speed Record
for a steam powered car to 139.843mph and 148.308mph over the measured mile
and kilometer respectively. (See 1906.)
- 2010, August 24:
The Venturi Buckeye Bullet 2.5 streamliner
(Ohio State Univ., Venturi Automobile), driven by Roger Schroer, set a
Land Speed Record for a battery powered electric vehicle of
495.526 km/h (307.905mph) for 1km,
495.140 km/h (307.666mph) for 1 mile — FIA
Formula 1 moved on from 2.4-litre V8 engines
to 1.6-litre turbo-charged V6s.
- 2017, October 20:
Mass production of cars in Australia ended when
GM Holden closed
its Elizabeth production line.
Toyota had closed its Altona factory on 3 October 2017, and
Ford on 7 October 2016.
- 2018, August:
The population of Australia reached, and passed, 25,000,000.
Algeria, the last country to do so, stopped selling leaded petrol;
see 30 Aug. 2021.
- [Bar72] L. Barzini,
Peking to Paris,
Alcove Press, 1972, edited and reprinted from the 1907 original.
- [Geo00] N. Georgano (ed),
The Beaulieu Encyclopedia of the Automobile (2 vols.),
The Stationary Office, London, 2000.
- [Hop71] K. B. Hopfinger,
The Volkswagen Story,
G.T.Foulis & co., 1971.
- [NT98] R. Noble & D. Tremayne,
THRUST Through the Sound Barrier,
- See motoring books.