From a vehicle developed in the 18th century as a steam-powered carriage, the automobile certainly has traveled a long way. Henry Ford, Francois Isaac de Rivaz, and Karl Benz must be looking from above with pride on their faces as they look at what glorious chaos their inventions have wrought. Society, as we know it, won’t know what it can achieve without their inventions.
From the downright weird to the ingeniously glorious, here are a few facts about everyone’s favorite road partner, the humble car.
Hitler the Engineer// if the Fuhrer didn’t have grand designs on a thousand-year-Reich, he probably would’ve ended up an automobile engineer. Adolf Hitler designed a sketch from the 30s that looks like what we now know as the ‘Bug’. This drawing went to Daimler-Benz first before Ferdinand Porsche received it. Hitler also coined the term for the brand—Volkswagen—a name which, when translated, means ‘People’s Car.’
The First Sports Car// in 1901, the Mercedes—a concept from Wilhelm Maybach created for Daimler Motoren Gesellschaft—became the progenitor of the motorcar as we know it today. Back then, it only ran at top speeds of 50 MPH. It became pretty popular that in 1909 an automobile factory in Europe was opened for mass production of the cars. The factory consisted of 1700 workers that worked the assembly lines to create 1000 cars per annum.
India’s Volkswagen// the 70s was an era of progress for India and, as a testament to these times, then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi contracted Sanjay Gandhi to create India’s first ‘People’s Car.’ Who else would they contact but the OG ‘People’s Car’ of Germany? However, due to budget constraints and the time required to create the model, Suzuki of Japan managed to secure the contract. Out of this deal was born the Model 796, the model which later on became known as Maruti 800.
Wartime Progress// the car industry was one of the industries that proliferated after the War. During both World Wars, concepts were developed that benefited the modern evolution of car models. Detroit, specifically, had their beginnings as ‘Motor City’ during this period when the evolution of the modern car became more apparent during this time. More gadgets, longer designs, and more expensive options became the norm as time passed by.
A Love for Things German// owing to its foundation, the car company Volkswagen had a love for naming things after German concepts. Some of its car models, specifically, borrowed names from German terms for ‘wind’. The Passat, Golf, Polo, and Jetta were ‘trade wind,’ ‘gulf stream,’ ‘polar winds,’ and ‘jet stream,’ respectively.
The Beginning of Aston Martin// typically, as in the case of Ford, car companies get their names from the owners and developers who built them. Luxury car Aston Martin, for instance, is a combination of one of its founder’s name—Lionel Martin—and the hill that he used to frequent for races, Aston Hill, which was located in close proximity to Aston Clinton.
Interestingly enough, without these cars and their development, the world would’ve been a totally different place. It is the inventor’s penchant for daring and risk-taking that gifted us with these vehicles for the modern times.