Become more intimidating

Given the American manufacturing tradition, it was also inevitable that cars would be produced in larger volume at lower prices than in Europe.

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With its vast land area and a hinterland of scattered and isolated settlements, the United States had a far greater need for automotive transportation than the nations of Europe.

Great demand was ensured, too, by a significantly higher per capita income and more equitable income distribution than European countries.

This would be overwhelmingly an American achievement. Frank and Charles Duryea of Springfield, Massachusetts, had designed the first successful American gasoline automobile in 1893, then won the first American car race in 1895, and went on to make the first sale of an American-made gasoline car the next year.

Thirty American manufacturers produced 2,500 motor vehicles in 1899, and some 485 companies entered the business in the next decade.

Manufacturers funneled their resources to the military during World War II, and afterward automobile production in Europe and Japan soared to meet growing demand.

Once vital to the expansion of American urban centers, the industry had become a shared global enterprise with the rise of Japan as the leading automaker by 1980.

Vanadium steel made the Model T a lighter and tougher car, and new methods of casting parts (especially block casting of the engine) helped keep the price down.

Committed to large-volume production of the Model T, Ford innovated modern mass production techniques at his new Highland Park, Michigan, plant, which opened in 1910 (although he did not introduce the moving assembly line until 1913-1914).

Its two-speed planetary transmission made it easy to drive, and features such as its detachable cylinder head made it easy to repair.

Its high chassis was designed to clear the bumps in rural roads.

But the Olds sold for only 0, putting it within reach of middle-class Americans, and the 1904 Olds output of 5,508 units surpassed any car production previously accomplished.

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