When considering the technological advancements that would go on to change the world, the list is quite a marvel. Not only is it longer than one might expect, but every entry could arguably be named the most influential breakthrough in technology the world has ever known. Here’s a short list:
- The printing press (Johannes Gutenberg, 1440)
- The light bulb (Thomas Edison, 1879)
- Photographic film (George Eastman, 1885)
- The airplane (The Wright Brothers, 1903)
- Chocolate chip cookies (Ruth Wakefield, 1930)
- The digital computer (George Stibitz, 1937)
- The nuclear bomb (J. Oppenheimer, 1945)
- The Internet (Various, 1982)
As impressive as this list is, perhaps no invention has been the subject of such adoration as well as such individual expression as the automobile. A person’s car can be everything from a work of art to an extension of themselves. Some cars are famous for their place in pop culture (like the Batmobile, or Ghostbuster’s Ecto-1) while others are infamous for their place in history (like Franz Ferdinand’s Gräf & Stift, or James Dean’s Porche 550 Spyder). The history of the automobile is as fascinating as it is relevant, especially to our business, for alongside the rise of the modern car is the modern car mechanic profession, like our West Valley auto care shop.
From Renaissance to Revolutionary
Many may be surprised to know that the origins of the car date back to the 17th Century when the inventive missionary Ferdinand Verbiest developed a self-propelled, steam-powered toy vehicle for the Chinese Emperor, Xuanye. While plans to improve the design began soon afterward, with patents for steam-powered vehicles big enough to carry people being drawn up just a few decades later, the car as we know it today didn’t really begin to take shape until the turn of the 19th Century.
It was during this time that people began to realize the necessity of various systems to control the car’s performance beyond the steam engine that made it go. By the mid-1800s, concepts like transmissions and brakes began to take shape, and soon people were needed to maintain the performance of these systems. In fact, the public became so dubious of the size and technological advancement of these early cars (and how quickly it was all happening), that “car handlers” became a subject of governmental priority in Great Britain. Not only did vehicles need someone who could actually repair the brakes if they went out, but these handlers had to precede the car down the street, waving a red flag to alert pedestrians. In a way, these red flags became the first brake lights.
By the end of the 19th Century, the car had improved drastically:
- Steam-powered cars were being replaced by those with electric motors.
- The first 4-wheeled buggy was invented, and the science behind car tires began to be explored.
- The first auto race was held.
- The internal combustion engine was constantly being perfected, as well as the fuel needed to run the car.
The Cars We Know Today
Once the 20th Century started, the metaphorical doors were blown completely off the race to produce a commercial vehicle that could be used by governments, the military, and the average family. As has been mentioned above, the car as we recognize it today could be seen as far back as Franz Ferdinand, pre-WWI. By the mid-1930s steam-powered vehicles were effectively out, and internal combustion was in.
Now we live in an age where the car industry is paradoxically advancing to places we’ve never been before, and yet right back to where we just were. The viability of the electric car has been proven time and again, with more money in R&D being spent each year to perfect the electric engine as well as the infrastructure of the nation to accommodate these vehicles. As cars get more complex, fewer people are able to pop the hood in their garage, grab a monkey wrench, and replace some gaskets until the car chugs back to life. Now a professional team of experienced car mechanics is a must for modern driving.
West Valley’s Auto Care Choice
Our West Valley team has a history of rising to the occasion, well beyond the typical oil change or filter check; they can work on any model and any make to get you back out on the road. The history of cars is also the history of car experts, and wherever cars (or car inventions) take us next, Master Muffler will be there. Give our West Valley location a call today so we can go to work and get you back out there in no time at all.