5 Automobile Firsts

At SoloAutos, we love compiling lists. Today, we are here with a list of automobile firsts. When technologies and accessories that are so common today first surfaced on the horizon of the car world and changed our way of driving.

1. First Cruise Control – 1958 (Chrysler) Imperial

First Cruise Control

You hop on the highway, you get up to speed, you set the cruise and then you sit back as your beloved car does all the work. Wonderful invention. But you don’t even pause to think about it. Do you?
Like so many other inventions, Cruise Control was also invented because there was a man who was annoyed. Very annoyed.

Cruise dates back to the mid 40’s, when Ralph Teetor got tired of riding the car with his lawyer when the constant speeding up and slowing down got on his nerves. Annoyed, he decided to take matters in his own hands. He developed a system that measured road speed by drive shaft rotation and a solenoid to operate the throttle which led to a relatively constant road speed regardless of the incline, and Cruise Control was born. His invention first appeared in production form on 1958 Imperials.


2. Airbags – GM, 1974

Airbags - GM, 1974

Ah, airbags. Every car you buy has one and you hope that you never have to see them. Yet, when the dreadful happens, they are there to save us from injury or possible death. Today, airbags come on every new car, no exceptions. The first airbags offered on a regular-production vehicle were an option on 1974 Cadillacs, Buicks, and Oldsmobiles.


3. First Mass-produced Car – The Olds

First Mass-produced Car – The Olds

The first instance of mass-produced petrol driven motorcars occurred in the USA. The car in question was the curved-dash Olds. Produced in batches of 10 per week, they made their first public appearance in April 1901. They quickly became popular. And by the end of the year the total number of cars made was 433, and this number rose to 5,508 per year in just three years. The car retailed at a phenomenally affordable price of $650.


4. First Car Theft – 1896

First Car Theft – 1896

Like so many other firsts in history, this one also happened in Paris, France. In June 1896, when Baron de Zuylen’s gave his beloved Peugeot to his Mechanic, he never would have thought that this event would be recorded in the annals of car history. His car was stolen from the manufacturers while it was undergoing repairs. Luckily for Baron de Zuylen, his car as well as the culprit, both were found later at the nearby town of Asnieres.


5: First Motoring Fatality – London, 1896

 First Motoring Fatality

Bridget Driscoll of Croydon was the first person to meet her maker because of a car. She was crossing the road when she saw a Rogers-Benz hurtling toward her at the speed of 4 mph. She took fright and stood still in the path of the oncoming car. She was run over and the cause of her death was reported to be a skull fracture. The death was ruled accidental.

Now the next time you are in your car on the highway, take a moment to thank your Cruise Control and the Airbags to make your ride safer and better.

For more such intriguing automobile facts, check our #Autofacts series on Twitter.


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