Could you please unfold the history of Cars?


People had used carts pulled by horses, oxen or other large animals for more than 5000 years before the first self-propelled vehicle was built. This was a clumsy steam-powered carriage designed to pull artillery guns, built by Frenchman Nicolas Cugnot in 1769. Steam-powered vehicles called traction engines took the place of horses on farms from the 1850s. Cars driven by small steam engines were popular in the USA in the 1890s.  

Nicolas Cugnot’s steam carriage could manage just 5 km/h. Karl Benz’s three-wheeled car, which had a single-cylinder petrol engine, reached speeds of 15 km/h.

The age of the car really started with the development of the internal combustion engine. This development began in the 1850s, but it was not until the 1880s that small, lightweight, petrol-driven engines were perfected, first of all by Gottlieb Daimler in Germany. The first petrol-driven car was built by German engineer Karl Benz in 1885.


The job of the internal combustion engine is to convert the energy stored in its fuel into movement. Inside the heavy engine block are cylinders (normally four in a car engine). Pistons fit snugly inside the cylinders. When the engine is running, the pistons move up and down, turning a crankshaft (which turns the wheels) via connecting rods.

Most internal combustion engines work on a four-stroke cycle which is repeated again and again as the pistons move up and down. On the first stroke, as the piston moves down, the inlet valve opens to allow a mixture of fuel and air to be sucked into the cylinder. On the second stroke, as the piston moves up, the air and fuel is squeezed into the top of the cylinder. Now a spark is created electrically by the spark plug, igniting the fuel, which forces the cylinder down. This is the third stroke. On the fourth stroke, the exhaust valve opens to let waste gases be forced out as the piston moves up again.


Benz and Daimler started selling cars in the late 1890s. In 1891 the first car with a front engine and rear-wheel drive appeared. Early cars were tricky to operate, slow and hand-built, which made them expensive. In 1908 motoring was opened up to ordinary people with the introduction in the USA of the Model-T Ford. This small car was built on a production line, making it cheap to make and so cheap to buy.

Meanwhile, motor sports were becoming popular, with cars taking part in races and rallies, and car builders competing to build the world’s fastest car. The land-speed record was first set in 1898, at 63 kilometres per hour.

Early land-speed record-holders:

(1) Jeantaud (1899, 93.7 km/h),

(2) La Jamais Contente (1899, 105.9 km/h),

(3) Serpollet (1902, 120.8 km/h)

(4) Mors (1902, 124.1 km/h).

Picture Credit : Google