When you’re ready to buy a new car, you head to the dealership expecting bells and whistles like retractable sunroofs or built-in GPS systems. While you might not spend much time thinking about the automobiles of old, the machines we now consider essential have come miles since their invention. The following guide details how the American car has changed over time.
How American Cars Have Evolved
The automobile got its start in Germany at the end of the 19th century. Many attribute the invention to Karl Benz around the year 1885. In 1901, Wilhelm Maybach would design a 35-horsepower Mercedes® that would become the model for all future vehicles.
As the 20th century lurched forward, Henry Ford became a household name for his Model T, which combined the American penchant for mass production with the fine-tuned automobile designs from Europe. With more affordable materials and efficient assembly lines, this 20-horsepower, four-cylinder, vanadium steel car sold for just $825. By the 1920s, Ford®, Chrysler®, and General Motors® had America dominating the global market.
WWII & Beyond
After the economic upheaval of the 1930s, car sales were falling flat, but the Second World War birthed opportunity from strife. With all the necessary equipment at hand, American car manufacturers were tasked with producing $29 billion worth of military equipment.
With the funds now available, they were ready to fill civilian demands for new cars. Manufacturers used this demand to create vehicles with more horsepower, costly design elements like tail fins, and speeds of up to 130 mph, leading to iconic vehicles like the Cadillac®, Rolls Royce®, and Bentley®.
Those who weren’t fond of the more cumbersome models opted for lighter, sleeker cars, such as the British Motor Corporation® Mini with its signature front-wheel drive. In 1978, Mercedes-Benz® produced the first car with an anti-lock braking system (ABS), which prevents skidding and is still used today. The 1980s saw industry shifts related to environmentalism, as they focused on producing cars with better fuel efficiency and fewer emissions.
In recent decades, that mission has continued with the rise of alternative fuel vehicles. From electric cars to hybrids like the Toyota® Prius, fuel-efficient models are sought-after. Today, General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler have taken advantage of government funding to develop eco-conscious fuel cell technology. Design-wise, cars continue to adapt to consumer needs, from lane-drifting alerts to automatic lift gates.
If all this history has you eager to shop for a new car yourself, head to Swant Graber Motors of Barron, WI. They have been in business for over 77 years, and they’ve seen the evolution of the industry firsthand. Whether you want to get behind the wheel of a Ford, Chevy®, or Dodge®, stop by their dealership today. To learn more about their inventory and service repair center, visit the website. Call (715) 537-5657 to speak with a representative.