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Seven Wonders of the Automotive World

PF_FlyerPF_Flyer Pennsylvania Furnace, PAPosts: 5,893
With more than a century of automotive history behind us, the thought came to mind to look back.

Of all the breakthroughs, gadgets, and gizmos that have been developed over the years, which do you think is the most important or influential with regard to the vehicles we drive today and why?

You can make your case for anything. Might be plastics, safety glass, power steering... anything.

And if the mood strikes you, you can bring up candidates for the least of these as well.

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Comments

  • fintailfintail Posts: 33,828
    Maybe fuel injection
  • PF_FlyerPF_Flyer Pennsylvania Furnace, PAPosts: 5,893
    What is it about fuel injection that makes it more influential or important than say, automatic transmissions, or power steering/brakes?

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  • fintailfintail Posts: 33,828
    Makes it so I don't have to go into a rage about a malfunctioning carb.

    I can deal with shifting for myself and using a little more effort to steer and stop. But I loathe working on carbs, and I loathe how a car with poorly tuned carbs runs. I guess all are about convenience, but I look at FI as more of one than power assistance.

    My first car, a 66 Galaxie, had neverending carb problems. It left a mark.

    I guess crumple zones and safety cells are a big innovation too.
  • lokkilokki Posts: 1,200
    The advent of the automatic transmission made it possible for any moron to drive if he/she can push down with one foot while moving one hand up and the other down at the same time.

    Much easier than patting your head while rubbing your tummy, and much much easier than understanding the conceptual relationship between engine speed, car speed, and what gear you're (supposed to be) in.

    The automatic transmission set free on our highways an entire class of people who you couldn't trust with an electric pencil sharpener.

    They're slogging along at 50 mph in the left lane, even as I write.

    It's also made it possible for members of a more gifted but still not fully capable group to fix his/her makeup, talk on a cell-phone, or chow down a Big MacR while driving. These people wouldn't have gotten 25 miles in a manual-transmission car before the attempt to multi-task in this manner dropped their cars into a ditch.

    So, in summary, the automatic transmission has sold more cars than any other single invention since the self-starter. :cry: or :P as you choose.
  • PF_FlyerPF_Flyer Pennsylvania Furnace, PAPosts: 5,893
    Does that also give the automatic a place on the "what were they thinking??" list too? :P

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  • bumpybumpy Posts: 4,435
    The windshield. Without it we'd still be wearing goggles and eating bugs at 20 miles per hour.
  • PF_FlyerPF_Flyer Pennsylvania Furnace, PAPosts: 5,893
    Ah yes...that IS a good one. And the safety glass improvement would rank as well since being able to go faster lead to more ...err... interaction with the windshield!

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  • lemkolemko Posts: 15,189
    ...I'd say the greatest automotive innovation has to be the electric starter. Could you imagine having to hand crank your 2007 car and risk a broken arm? The automatic transmission is the second greatest as it made driving a less cumbersome chore.
  • andys120andys120 Loudon NHPosts: 16,643
    I'd have to go with the ICE. We are now beginning to enter an age when alternatives are considered possible even preferable but it's hard to imagine the first 100 years of the automobile without the Internal Combustion Engine.

    Automatic transmissions, interval wipers and power seats are small potatoes by comparison. ;)

    2000 BMW 528i, 2001 BMW 330CiC

  • PF_FlyerPF_Flyer Pennsylvania Furnace, PAPosts: 5,893
    Could be. We'd all be driving steamers or electrics otherwise ;)

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  • larsblarsb Posts: 8,204
    This is really cool.....Don't miss this link:
    MIT at it again
  • iluvmysephia1iluvmysephia1 Posts: 5,707
    cellphone being used in my Electric Blue 2008 Mitsubishi Lancer. There you have it. Done deal!

    2011 Kia Soul Sport 5-speed

  • redmaxxredmaxx Posts: 627
    Seat belts, since they have saved more lives than any other innovation.
  • PF_FlyerPF_Flyer Pennsylvania Furnace, PAPosts: 5,893
    Stuff that we don't even think about now were HUGE innovations when first introduced. Windshields for example. There's an interesting variation on a windshield on a car in the museum at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Basically it looks like a badminton racket stuck up in front of the driver. I suppose it stopped the bigger bugs from slapping you in the face. ;)

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  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 22,011
    great for makin' babies. :P
  • boomchekboomchek Vancouver, BC, CanadaPosts: 5,108
    apparently introduced many innovations as well. Padded dashboard, pop out windshield, and the centre headlight that swiveled with the steering to see around the corners, similar to what Mb and BMW started offering just recently.

    I liked the movie, and the cars, too bad it went belly up.

    2007 BMW 328i Sports Pkg, 1993 Honda Accord EXR (my 33rd car).

  • thegraduatethegraduate Posts: 9,731
    Not the most important feature maybe (the safety belt is more important), but certainly would save a lot of repair costs on people that slide into trees, guardrails, and other cars in slick or panic-stop conditions.
  • starrow68starrow68 Posts: 1,142
    Actually the starter motor was a major deal since not only
    did people break arms, some were killed by the crank throw
    back.

    The ICE has been in personal transport since the beginning,
    I think, along with steam and electric which are now
    Hydrogen and electric so things haven't changed much.

    As much good as seat belts have done, and it's major, it is
    still a passive system, it helps after the problem has
    taken it course. Electronic Stability Control is an
    active system to save you from yourself or from outside
    potentials that you can't handle on your own before you get
    into an accident. In the long run I'm betting on ESC!
    Randy

    Then again, like the automatic it has made more than the
    usual 80% who consider themselves above average drivers
    think they know what they are doing ...
  • dificadifica Posts: 9
    Well, yeah, the ICE and all the safety and fuel saving technology has been important over the years, but i can't see cars (or almost any form of transport) being what it is without the wheel. Ok, the wheel is a lot older than the automobile, but it's been used for similar form of transport powered by different things (steam, horses, bulls, camels, whatever).

    Let's face it, without the wheel there would be no car in the first place.
  • PF_FlyerPF_Flyer Pennsylvania Furnace, PAPosts: 5,893
    How about the pneumatic tire since the wheel predates the car?

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  • dificadifica Posts: 9
    Allright, let's make it pneumatic tires. That's actually better, because i don't think cars would be so popular if wheels were wood disks ;) . Could be a little uncomfortable and hugely noisy.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,061
    I'm going to take a flyer here and suggest The All Steel Body.

    Prior to the steel industry (actually the railroad car industry) figuring out how to make large one-piece stamping, cars had to use wood and fabric to build bodies...or build them entirely by hand out of aluminum. This made car bodies rickety, full of rattles and prone to leakage through their rubberized roof-holes (they couldn't figure out how to stamp out an entire roof panel with A, B and C pillars.

    You'll notice this change in cars right around 1935 or so. These large steel stamping techniques allowed cars to accept stronger motors, and it made them much safer, warmer, quieter, smoother and far more capable of high speeds.

    it also allowed real styling to appear in ordinary production cars. You'll notice right away that 1935 cars look smoother and curvier than the "boxy" cars of the late 1920s and early 30s.

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  • starrow68starrow68 Posts: 1,142
    No references but I think the rubber tire pre-dates the car
    as well. There were bicycles for personal transport before
    there were cars and it is one reason there was a lobby that
    wanted paved roads in the US like Europe already had before
    the car. I'm willing to be proved wrong ...
    Randy
  • fezofezo Posts: 9,363
    "That's actually better, because i don't think cars would be so popular if wheels were wood disks" No. No. Stone. Just ask Fred Flintstone.

    Speaking of starter motors and cranks, my mom lost a friend in childhood because of a crank. She was sledding down a hill, lost some control on a curve and went head first into someone's starter crank.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,061
    The "story" goes that Mr. Kettering was inspired to invent the starter motor after hearing about the death of a friend who was killed while trying to crank over a car. Apparently, his friend (also a car guy, can't recall his name at the moment--might have been Carter of the Carter car) had his jaw broken by the backfire of the crank handle, and later developed an infection and died indirectly from the injury. The story has never been documented properly but it's got the touch of legend and myth to it that is appropriate to great discoveries.

    Others say he "merely" looked at the electric motors that drove cash registers and wondered why such a motor couldn't crank an engine. The experts of the time insisted that such a motor would be too large and heavy to install, but Kettering figured out, quite rightly of course, that the starter motor didn't have to drive the engine ALL the time, just for short bursts of high-torque.

    Just as a perk, he also invented the breaker point /coil ignition system at the same time.

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  • bhill2bhill2 Posts: 1,360
    but I am going to throw out automotive A/C. Certainly cars went for a long time without it, but as someone who was a child in the Sacramento Valley of California during the years before A/C was common in cars, I know that its incorporation certainly expanded their useability. There were portions of the summer when you went WAY out of your way to avoid being in an automobile. My first summer ride in a car with A/C is a frozen (pun intended) moment in my memory.

    2009 BMW 335i, 2003 Corvette cnv, 2001 Jaguar XK cnv, 1985 MB 380SE (the best of the lot)

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,061
    There is a theory of history that AC changed the way America was governed. Before AC, Congress met far less frequently in Washington (it's a humid pit in summer, and way back, probably unhealthy and malarial)....but with AC, they could meet longer, create more legislation, scandal, thievery, good, bad and ugly.

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  • bhill2bhill2 Posts: 1,360
    Aw Jeez. Up to now I had thought of AC as a good thing.

    2009 BMW 335i, 2003 Corvette cnv, 2001 Jaguar XK cnv, 1985 MB 380SE (the best of the lot)

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,061
    Every invention has good and bad consequences I'd wager--LOL!

    How about hydraulic brakes as a great invention? First appearing on production cars in the Chrsyler, around 1924 I think.

    For many many years, brakes on all 4 wheels was considered "dangerous" and hydraulic brakes on all 4 wheels----well, you're as good as dead. Henry Ford held on stubbornly to mechanical rod brakes until well into the 1930s!

    I don't know if you've ever driven a car with mechanical brakes, but it's a thrill. Even Bugatti used them for many years, perhaps even longer than Ford.

    They can be effective but require constant adjustment.

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  • autoeduautoedu Posts: 47
    In 1959 Volvo introduced the three-point safety belt,
    invented by Volvo engineer Nils Bohlin.

    Many countless lives have been saved as the result of this innovative safety invention. The most basic and effective safety feature for automobile

    Thank you Nils Bohlin, and thanks Volvo.
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