Five of the Biggest Moments in Automobile History

automobile historyWith semi-autonomous cars already on the road and the development of fully autonomous vehicles constantly reaching new milestones, we have spent a lot of time looking to the future of cars. But what about the milestone moments that got us to where we are today?

Before another of the biggest moments in automobile history arrives, here are a few of the big moments that go us here.

Electric Headlamps

Although early car headlamps did allow drivers to navigate roads at night (and improve pedestrian safety) they were rather unreliable and sometimes hazardous.

The invention of the electric headlamp occurred in 1898 and it was a major milestone in vehicle safety. They were first installed in Electric Vehicle Company’s Columbia Electric Car, and then improved upon by Cadillac with the first modern system being introduced in 1912.

Moving Assembly Line

Henry Ford’s mass production technique made a huge impact not only on the manufacturing of cars, but the manufacturing industry as a whole.

The first moving assembly line was installed in Ford’s Michigan Highland Park plant in 1913, helping to make vehicles available to the masses. It brought the production time of a vehicle down from 12 hours to two and a half.

Fully Automatic Transmission

Nowadays, many American drivers have never driven anything but a car with a fully automatic transmission, but it wasn’t that long ago that this invention came to be. Called “Hydra-Matic”, fully automatic transmission was first introduced in 1940 in GM’s popular Oldsmobile.

This invention completely altered the automobile industry, making driving a breeze and becoming an expected feature in almost all vehicles today.

Seat Belts

An addition that was considered optional for many years, the seat belt was introduced as a safety feature in 1948. The first car to add them was the Tucker Torpedo, but it wasn’t until 1955 that a car manufacturer decided to make seatbelts a standard feature.

Volvo was the one to make the jump first, followed by American auto companies in the mid-1960s.


Another important safety feature that it is difficult to imagine not having; airbags were not adopted by popular U.S. auto manufacturers Ford and Chevy until the mid-1980s.

The earliest airbag was invented by John W. Hetrick and was patented in 1953. More than ten years later, Mercedes-Benz became the first auto manufacturer to develop airbags for their vehicles.

Car manufacturers have made incredible leaps and bounds in the years since the above technologies were developed, introducing features that the manufacturers of these early additions only dreamed of. And with fully autonomous vehicles expected on the roads by 2020, PermaPlate looks forward to experiencing another important milestone in automobile history!

Leave a Reply

  • (will not be published)

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>