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Major Automotive Contributors

One of the earliest recorded major milestones in the development of the automobile was the Cugnot steam traction engine in 1769-1770. Even though this self-powered road vehicle was rather impractical, it was a starting point for the automobile. The development of the internal combustion engine in 1860 made road vehicles more promising. Then in 1886 Carl Benz was credited with building the world’s first practical motorcar. At the turn of the century, blacksmith shops around the country were hand-building cars. Henry Ford, who introduced the Model T in 1908, put an end to many of the small hand-building automotive shops. By 1914, Ford was able to significantly decrease production time using a conveyor (moving) assembly line. Workers could put together a Model T in just 93 minutes. Ford even selected black paint because it dried faster than any other color. By 1920, half the cars in the world were Model T Fords. In 1923 alone, Ford produced over 1.8 million Model T’s. The last Ford Model T rolled off of the assembly line in 1927. Ford produced over 15 million Model T’s, but that was not enough for it to remain the best selling car in history. Dr. Ferdinand Porsche invented the highly popular “people’s car” the Volkswagen Beetle in the 1930s, eventually selling over 23 million. The Toyota Corolla has the record for the best selling car ever, with over 37 million sold. Over the last hundred years, automobile production has grown substantially. In 1900 about 9500 motor vehicles were produced in the world. That number grew to over 50 million per year just a century later.