In 1890 Frenchman Emile Levassor made the first real car, with an engine at the front. He laughed about his invention, saying, ‘C’est brutal, mais ca marche’ (`It’s rough, but it goes:).
The Duryea brothers made the first successful American car in 1893.
Early accidents made cars seem dangerous. Until 1896 in Britain and 1901 in New York cars had to be preceded by a man on foot waving a red flag.
In 1895 the French Panhard-Levassor company made the first covered ‘saloon’ car.
In 1898 Renault drove the wheels with a shaft not a chain.
The Oldsmobile Curved Dash of 1900 was the first car to sell in thousands.
On early cars speed was controlled by moving a small ignition advance lever backwards or forwards. 434 ♦ By 1904, many cars were starting to have the familiar layout of cars today — engine at the front, driver on one side, steering wheel, petrol tank at the back, a shaft to drive the wheels and so on.
Dirt roads, oil spray and noise meant early motorists needed protective clothing such as goggles.
The first cars had wooden or wire-spoked wheels. Pressed-steel wheels like today’s came in after 1945.
In 1906 an American steam-driven car, the Stanley Steamer, broke the Land Speed Record at over 205 km/h.
The Mercedes Benz 300SL of 1952 was one of the first supercars of the postwar years, famous for its stylish flip-up (Gullwing’ doors.
The Jaguar E-type was the star car of the early 1960s with incredibly sleek lines and 250 km/h performance.
The Ford Mustang was one of the first young and lively ‘pony’ cars, introduced in 1964.
The Aston Martin DB6 was the classic supercar of the late 1960s, driven by film spy James Bond.
The Porsche 911 turbo was the fastest accelerating production car for almost twenty years after it was launched in 1975, scorching from 0 to 100 km/h in just 5.4 seconds. 436
The Lamborghini Countach was the fastest supercar of the 1970s and I980s, with a top speed of 295 km/h.
The Maclaren Fl can accelerate from 0 to 160 km/h in less time than it takes 1( read this sentence.
The Maclaren F1 is capable of going from 0 to 160 km/h and back to 0 again ii under 20 seconds.
A tuned version of the Chevrolet Corvette, the Callaway Sledge Hammer, can hit over 400 km/h.
The first car speed record was achieved by an electric Jentaud car in 1898 at Acheres near Paris. Driven by the Comte de Chasseloup-Laubat, the car hit 63.14 km/h. Camille Jenatzy vied with de Chasseloup-Laubat for the record, raising it to 105.85 km/h in his car Jamais Cantente in 1899.
Daytona Beach in Florida became a venue for speed trials in 1903.
The biggest engine ever to be raced in a Grand Prix was the 19,891 cc V4 of American Walter Christie, which he entered in the 1907 French Grand Prix. Later the Christie was the first front-wheel-drive car to win a major race – a 400 km race on Daytona Beach.
The record for the circuit at Brooldancis in England was set in 1935 by John Cobb in a Napier-Railton at 1 min 0.41 sec (230.79 km/h) and never beaten.
In 1911 the governing body for the Land Speed Record said that cars had to make two runs in opposite directions over a 1 km course to get the record.
In 1924 Sir Malcolm Campbell broke the Land Speed Record for the first of many times in a Sunbeam at 235.17 km/h. In 1925 he hit 150 mph (242 km/h) for the first time. But his most famous record-breaking runs were in the 1930s in his own Bluebird cars.
In 1947 John Cobb drove with tremendous skill to reach 634.27 km/h in his Railton-Mobil. This stood as the record for 17 years.
In 1964 the rules were changed to allow jet and rocket-propelled cars to challenge for the Land Speed Record. The next year Craig Breedlove drove his three-wheeler jet Spirit of America to over 500 mph (846.78 km/h).
In 1970 Gary Gabelich set the record over 1000 km/h with his rocket-powered Blue Flame. This record wasn’t beaten until Richard Noble roared to 1019.37 km/h in his Rolls-Royce jet-powered Thrust 2 in 1983.
On 13 October 1997, a British jet car called Thrust SSC driven by British fighter pilot Andy Green broke the sound barrier for the first time. In two runs across Nevada’s Black Rock desert it hit over 1220 km/h.