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Automobile History

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1885: Karl Benz (1844-1929) built a motorised tricycle driven by an oil-spirit internal combustion engine in 1885. This is widely held to be the first successful motor vehicle.

1885: Gottlieb Daimler (1834-1900) built a motorised bicycle in 1885 and a 4-wheel motor carriage in 1886.

1898: Latil (France) made front wheel drive units and then 4x4.

1898: Tatra started manufacturing.

1899: August Horch began a car company carrying his own surname in 1899; it evolved into Auto-Union and eventually Audi.

1900: Ferdinand Porsche's La Toujours Contente had battery-power with four electric motors, one at each wheel. (He later patented the Mixte transmission in which a petrol engine drove a dynamo and electric motors drove the wheels. It was too expensive for the day.)

1900: Puch's first car.

1901: Volume imports of cars began into Australia starting with De Dion Boutons.

1902: `Mercedes' registered as a trademark. March 1, 1902, the first 40hp Mercedes Simplex ever built was supplied to Emil Jellinek in Nice. It was named after Jellinek's daughter.

1902: Spyker featured a 6-cylinder engine and four wheel drive!

1902: Minerva started making cars.

1903: Ford.

1904: Rover 8hp.

1906: Societa Italinana Automobili Darracq (SIAD) founded; it later became Alfa Romeo (about 1921).

1907: Peking to Paris car race was won by an Itala.

1907: Felix and Norman Caldwell of South Australia applied for a patent for four wheel drive with four wheel steering; they went on to build Caldwell Vale 4x4 trucks with Henry Vale. - L. A11ison

1908: Model-T production began.

1909: Bugatti built his first car.

1911: FWD sold its first 4x4.

1913: Jeffrey Quad 4x4 truck went into production.

1914: The Society Anonima Officine Alfieri Maserati, Bologna, was created by the Maserati brothers.

1915: Big Lizzie road train (.au).

1917: First Oshkosh four wheel drive truck.

1919: Bentley founded.

1921: DKW - scooters first.

1922: Citroen half-tracks crossed the Sahara, leaving from Touggourt in Algeria.

1922: Baby Austin 7.

1924, December 28: Citroen half-tracks left to traverse Africa.

1924: The first MG car was built - on a modified Morris Oxford chassis.

1927: Model-T production ended; 15 million Model Ts had been built from 1908 to 1927.

1929: AEC started to build AWD trucks in conjunction with FWD (UK).

1931: Bentley taken over by Rolls Royce.

1931-1932: Citroen-Haardt expedition, using Citroen half-tracks, followed part of Marco-Polo's route from Beirut to Beijing.

1932: Audi became part of Auto-Union, with DKW, Horch and Wanderer.

1932: Miller 4x4 racing cars at Indianapolis.

1934: AEC road train (one of three built) was brought to Australia. It consisted of an 8×8 prime-mover and two 8-wheel self-tracking trailers. - L. A11ison

1934: Dodge started building 4WD trucks (-George Miles).

1934: Prototype PX-33 four wheel drive car built for the Japanese government; the car did not go into production (Mitsubishi). Thanks to Balazs Toth.

1937: Svenska Aeroplan Aktiebolaget, aircraft factory founded, later became Saab.

1938: GAZ 61 - Russian 4x4.

1940: Jeep specification issued. 1940-1941: Bantam built 2700 light 4x4s, early "Jeeps".

1941-1945: Ford and Willys-Overland built 700,000 General Purpose vehicles for WWII. GP became Jeep.

1946, October 10: Unimog introduced (- H. J. Feil).

1948: Series-1 Land-Rover released.

1948: Porsche's first car had a 1086cc 30kW VW engine.

1948: Jaguar XK120 launched.

1948: Holden 48-215.

1948: Ford released the 1st of the F-Series vehicles.

1950: The Ford GPA, or amphibious Jeep, `Half Safe' was "driven" across the Atlantic ocean by Ben and Elinore Carlin. It's true!

1950: VW Transporter lay down the foundations of the hippy era.

1951: First Toyota Landcruiser was built under the `BJ Jeep' name. The LandCruiser name came in 1954.

1952: Suzuki's first motorcycle.

1952 March 12: Launch of the racing sports car version of the Mercedes Benz 300SL (of the gullwing doors).

1953: The first Redex Reliability Trial was held. Competitors had two weeks to cover 11,000km taking them around Australia. Ken Tubman and John Marshall won in a Peugeot 203.

1954-1956: Amphibious Jeep `La Tortuga' "drove" from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego.

1955-1956: London to Singapore Overland (except for Channel!) 2×Land-Rovers.

1955: Suzuki's first car.

1955: The wonderful Goggomobil.

1958: First Toyota LandCruisers imported into Australia.

1959: BMC Mini went on sale.

1959: Haflinger by Steyr-Daimler-Puch.

1960: A Jeep and a Land-Rover traversed the Darien Gap.

1960: Ford Falcon XK.

1961: Jaguar E-type unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show.

1961: Stirling Moss drove a Ferguson Project 99 (P99) with the Ferguson 4WD system to victory in the Oulton Park Gold-Cup race.

1964, 17 July: Donald Campbell in Bluebird (4WD) raised the land speed record to 403mph, in Australia.

1964: Porsche 911; it went on to become a classic.

1964: Mini Moke went on sale.

1965: VW bought Audi.

1966: Jensen FF road car had Formula Ferguson 4WD and Dunlop Maxaret anti-lock brakes (ABS).

1969: Ferrari joined the Fiat group.

1970: Range Rover released - luxury full-time 4WD.

1971: Lunar rover "cars" on the moon.

1971: Ford Falcon XY ute 4WD (.au).

1971-1972: British Trans-Americas Range Rover expedition.

1974: Subaru Leone 4x4 car.

1979: AMC produced the Eagle 4x4 car.

1981: Specification for the High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV) was issued; later known as the Humvee or Hummer.

1981: Audi revolutionized rallying with the Quattro 4WD rally car.

1981: Porsche showed the Porsche 911 AWD concept car at the Frankfurt Motor Show.

1983: Land-Rover 110, coil-sprung, full-time 4WD.

1984: A Porsche 911 AWD won the Paris Dakar rally.

1986: Porsche 959 AWDs finished 1, 2 and 6 in the Paris Dakar rally.

1992: McLaren F1 rewrote the super-car rule book.

1993: Maserati was bought by Fiat from de Tomaso.

1996: Lotus was taken over by Proton.

1996: New Jeep Wrangler got coil springs.

1997: Thrust SSC broke the sound barrier and raised the World Land Speed Record to 1221kph (763mph, Mach 1.02).

1998: Bentley bought by VW. Is nothing sacred? BMW pulled a swifty and bought the Rolls Royce name.

1998: Bugatti name bought by VW.

1998: Chrysler and Mercedes-Benz merged to form DaimlerChrysler.

1999: Volvo cars sold to Ford.

2000: Ford bought LandRover and `Phoenix' took over MG-Rover from BMW.

2001: BMW put the retro' `new Mini' on sale in Europe (.au in 2002).

2001 July: Rolls-Royce and Bentley Motor Cars announced details of the last Rolls-Royce Silver Seraph model to commemorate 97 years of Rolls-Royce cars; production ends with 2001. VW continued to build Bentleys but future Rolls Royces were to be built at BMW's new factory.

2002: Rolls-Royce became pure BMW, and Bentley pure Volkswagen.

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