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Two-Lane Roads
Auto history timeline

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Next page begins our RV lifestyle section.

Automobile history timeline

1900
First automobile ad - Saturday Evening Post
First steering wheel in place of tiller.
First drivers license issued - to Harold J. Birnie in New York City

1901
Oldsmobile includes a speedometer on their cars.

1902
American Automobile Association organized

1904
First school for automobile mechanics - Detroit

1905
First cars sold on installment plan.
First car reported stolen. (St. Louis)

1907
Ford is first US car with left-hand steering

1908
General Motors formed by Billy Durant, with acquisition of Buick, Cadillac, Oakland (Pontiac) and Oldsmobile.
Fisher Body established
New York to Paris race won by a Thomas Flyer automobile.
First Model T Ford

1909
First rural mile of concrete - Wayne County, Michigan

1910
Billy Durant loses control of General Motors

1911
Chevrolet Motors formed by Billy Durant
First electric starter - Cadillac
General Motors Truck Co. established (later called GMC)
First Indianapolis 500

1913
First moving assembly line - Ford
Ford produces 1000 cars in one day
Lincoln Highway Association is established
Henry B. Joy, president of Packard, joins the Lincoln Highway Assn.

1914
First Dodge Brothers car
First stop sign - Detroit
First US-produced 12-cylinder car - Packard

1915
Emily Post, her son, and a cousin attempt to drive from New York City to San Francisco on the Lincoln Highway. (They do arrive, but the car was shipped by rail part of the way.)
Henry Joy and a mechanic drive a Packard from Detroit to San Francisco, following the Lincoln Highway, in 21 days.

1916
National highway system established with President Woodrow Wilson signing Federal Aid Road Act.
Billy Durant uses his success with Chevrolet to re-gain control of General Motors.

1917
Lincoln Motor Company established by Henry M. Leland.

1918
First 3-color traffic signal light - Detroit
GM of Canada formed

1919
Fisher Body affiliates with GM
GMAC - General Motors Acceptance Corporation - organized

1920
Harry Osterman, secretary of Lincoln Highway Association, flips over the club's Packard on the Lincoln Highway in Iowa. He dies in the crash.

1921
Lincoln comes with standard turn signals

1922
Ford acquires Lincoln Motor Co.

1923
First Ethyl gasoline sold - Dayton
4-wheel brakes are standard

1924
One in seven Americans owns a car

1925
Walter P Chrysler buys Maxwell, changes name to Chrysler Corp.
Yellow Truck & Coach established; GM Trucks (GMT) merged to it.
Fisher Body acquires Fleetwood Body Company
US Government takes over the numbering of federal roads. Gone are names like "Lincoln Highway" and "National Road," replaced with numbers like US 30 and US 40.

1926
Oakland introduces the first Pontiac car
Benz and Daimler merge.
Octane scale introduced.
Safety glass introduced
Hot water car heater introduced

1927
Ford Model A introduced, Model T discontinued.
Cadillac introduces LaSalle name

1928
Chrysler buys Dodge Brothers
Chrysler introduces Plymouth and DeSoto cars
Studebaker takes over Pierce-Arrow
Coast-to-coast bus service debuts

1929
US auto production hits 5,337,087; a record not surpassed until the 1950s.
First US diesel car - a Packard with a Cummins engine
First US front drive cars - Cord and Ruxton

1930
First US 16-cylinder car - Cadillac
First free-wheeling - Studebaker
First cars wired for radio
Semi-automatic with dash control - REO

1932
Fred S Duesenberg killed in car crash (in his own Duesenberg.)

1932
Oakland Division becomes Pontiac Division of GM

1934
Chrysler and DeSoto Airflow body introduced
Airflow cars have automatic overdrive transmission
First supercharged Graham

1935
First all-steel turret top - Fisher Body
First Lincoln Zephyr (1936 model)

1936
Nash joins with Kelvinator Refrigerator
the first Volkswagen
REO changes from car production to trucks
First production diesel cars - Mercedes

1937
gearshifts move from floor to steering columns

1938
Ford introduces a new brand of car - 1939 Mercury

1939
First Hydramatic transmission - 1940 Oldsmobile
First Lincoln Continental

1940
Sealed beam headlights
Cadillac drops the LaSalle

1941
Willys begins Jeep delivery

1942
Civilian car production halts for World War II
Gas rationing begins

1945
Passenger car production resumes - July
Gas rationing ends - August
Lincoln-Mercury Division established

1946
Kaiser and Frazer cars debut
Bendix builds power steering for trucks

1947
Henry Ford dies at 83

1948
Cadillac & Oldsmobile introduce high-compression V-8s
First torque converter automatic transmission - Buick Dynaflow
Jeep wagon (first sport utility vehicle?) and Jeepster convertible offered

1949
First Nash Rambler
First car to start by turning the key only - Chrysler

1950
First Henry J. car - from Kaiser
First tinted glass - Buick

1951
First hemi V-8 - Chrysler
First automobile power steering - Chrysler

1952
Four barrel carburetors - Buick, Oldsmobile, Cadillac

1953
First fiberglass body - Chevrolet Corvette
Auto air conditioning
12 volt electrical systems
Kaiser-Frazer acquires Willys Overland

1954
Studebaker and Packard merge
Nash and Hudson merge into American Motors
First Ford Thunderbird (1955 model)

1955
Record players - Chrysler
Remote truck release - Cadillac
Pushbutton automatic transmissions - Chrysler, DeSoto, Dodge, Plymouth (1956 model)
Four-door hardtops - Buick and Oldsmobile
US production record - 9 million vehicles.

1956
6-way power seats
Fuel injection - Pontiac & Chevrolet

1957
Paper air cleaners replace oil bath
Edsel introduced by Ford (1958 model)
Retractable hardtops - Ford
Cruise control

1958
Government mandates retail price sticker on cars
Final Packard is built

1959
Chevrolet Corvair, Ford Falcon, Plymouth Valiant compacts debut (1960 models)

1960
Edsel dropped after 3 model years

1961
Final DeSoto built

1963
Front seat belts standard

1964
First Ford Mustang (1965 model)

1966
Studebaker shuts its doors after 114 years (began as wagon maker)

More auto history:

History of Ford Motor Company -- 1st 100 years, 1903-2003
http://www.hfmgv.org/exhibits/fmc/chrono.asp

Henry Ford biography
http://www.hfmgv.org/exhibits/hf/default.asp

History of General Motors -- 1st 100 years, 1908-2008
http://www.gm.com/company/corp_info/history/

Automobile History - from About.com. Index to dozens of auto history pages.
http://inventors.about.com/library/inventors/blcar.htm

What happened on this day in automotive history? Fun auto history facts, from the History Channel. Click here


 
E-mail:  twolaneroads@bellsouth.net
 
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Except where otherwise noted, all text and all photographs were created by Loren Eyrich.  No portion of this website may be reproduced without written permission.