Some interesting facts and figures about our Automobile history
The mid-17th century saw the arrival of the first steam engine automobiles while in 1807, Francois Rivaz gave us the first car to run on fuel gas.
Fast-forward to this era and we have cars that can breach 300mph speed records, and sprint from 0-100kmph in under 3 seconds. We are, in fact,
moving pedaling towards a future of self-driven cars.
For nostalgia's sake, let's recall our humble automobile beginnings.
In 1885, German inventor Karl Benz created a wagon that featured a four-stroke engine fitted between the rear wheels. Named as 'Benz Patent Motorwagen', it is regarded as the world's first production automobile, i.e. a vehicle that could be propelled by an internal combustion engine. It is for this reason that Benz is regarded as the inventor of modern automobiles.
We all have seen the Volkswagen Beetle and wondered about its toy-like design. But did you know that the Beetle has a Hitler connect? Yes, Adolf Hitler asked Ferdinand Porsche to make a "Volkswagen" (People's Car), and this car went on to become the iconic Beetle. Interestingly, one of the surviving sketches of the Beetle from 1930s was allegedly drawn by Hitler himself.
You would think the Beetle must be the most famous car to have been ever made. Well, it's an iconic car but nowhere near Ford's Model T. Notably, in 1916, 55% of the cars in the world were Model T, an unbroken record till date.
Closer home, in 1971, PM Indira Gandhi proposed the production of a 'People's Car' for India and Sanjay Gandhi was entrusted with the job. He held talks with Volkswagen AG for a possible joint venture, covering the transfer of technology and joint production of India's own Beetle. However, Suzuki won the contract and Maruti 800, based on Suzuki's Model 796, became a household name.
Interestingly, back in the day, the first road-worthy cars didn't come with a steering wheel. Instead, they had a lever that not only looked like a joystick but also functioned like one.