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Bodywork, usually of the open type with only rudimentary weather protection in the form of a canvas hood, was the responsibility of coachbuilders, who had hitherto manufactured horse-drawn vehicles. par
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In 1904 the English Napier company had built the world rquote s first usable six-cylinder car, although the costly straight-eight engine did not make any impact until after World War I. The more compact V8, in which four in-line cylinders were positioned in a V-shaped configuration, was popularized by the American Cadillac company in 1915. Its Lincoln rival was responsible for the world rquote s first successful V12-engined car that dates from 1915. However, the V6 unit, pioneered by Lancia, did not arrive until 1950. par
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Q Saloon Bodies par
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Most cars were fitted with open, wooden-framed, hand-crafted steel or aluminium bodywork that was mounted on a separate chassis frame. Saloons were more expensive because they used more materials. It was not until 1925 that the American Essex company risked all by offering a closed car that sold for less than a touring vehicle. The gamble paid off and the rest of the motoring world soon followed suit. par
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Machine-made pressed steel body panels had been used by Dodge in America from 1916; this led to the all-steel saloon and, finally, the unitary body, which dispensed with the chassis and transferred stresses to the hull. Citro 'ebn rquote s advanced front-wheel drive Traction Avant model of 1934 was the first mass-produced car to feature the concept and was followed by General Motors rquote German Opel subsidiary in 1935. General Motors was also responsible for introducing silent gear changes to motoring in 1928, and in 1940 an American car, the Oldsmobile, was the first vehicle to have automatic transmission. par
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Cars used leaf springs inherited from horse-drawn carriages until the 1930s, when independent front suspension was developed. However, its rear equivalent was rarer and usually confined to more expensive vehicles. An exception was provided by Volkswagen AG in Germany. The Beetle was the Volkswagen which was designed by Ferdinand Porsche in 1934 and entered series production in 1945. Featuring all-independent suspension, it was powered by a rear-mounted, horizontally opposed, four-cylinder engine that was cheap to run, and which also defied convention by being air- rather than water-cooled. The Beetle became the most popular car in the history of motoring; it is still in production and a record 21 million have been built. par
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A German company also produced the economical and efficient diesel engine, invented in 1893 by Rudolf Diesel. Adopted in the 1920s for use in commercial vehicles, in 1935 Mercedes-Benz introduced the 260D as the world rquote s first diesel-engined car. par
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R Front-Wheel Drive par
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In 1937 the French Citro 'ebn company briefly offered a diesel option in its front-wheel drive Traction Avant. This model represented the first serious challenge to the orthodox front-engine/rear-drive configuration. Although the mechanics were more sophisticated, the Traction Avant cornered better and could be built with lower body lines because there was no obtrusive transmission tunnel. par
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While the Citro 'ebn rquote s engine was conventionally positioned, the British Motor Corporation rquote s front-wheel drive Mini of 1959, designed by its chief engineer Alec Issigonis, had its power unit turned 90 'b0 to a transverse-mounted location. This allowed for more passenger accommodation: four adults could be seated in a car only 3 m (10 ft) long. par
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S Fuel Economy par
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In Europe Mini-inspired cars became increasingly popular and the Mini itself became a classic. However, the global influence of the Issigonis approach attained its height following the oil price rises in the early 1970s.




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