Five Interesting Facts About Car History You Might Not Know

 October 29, 2019  4:42 PM

There are some gear heads out there that know their facts. To them, studying, collecting and working on automobiles is more of a passion than it is a hobby. But to folks that haven’t dedicated their lives to knowing more than their commutes and road trips, here’s some cool facts about the history of our modern transportation.


The First Cars

We’ve seen “automobiles” since as early 1769. They were steam-powered and immense in size–weighing some 8000 lbs. 


Roughly 40 years later a gentleman named Francois Isaac de Rivaz had designed the first vehicle powered by an internal combustion engine. However, de Rivaz didn’t take the title for inventing the first car. 


It wasn’t until 1885 when Karl Benz created his Benz Patent-Motorwagen. This was THE car. The car featured wire wheels and a four-stroke set between the rear wheels. 

The Benz Patent-Motorwagen is believed to be the first modern automobile. 


It was deemed the first car to generate its own power. He was given its patent when he applied for it in 1886, and was titled “The Inventor of Modern Automobiles.”


Sales Records

There was a time when the Ford Model-T made up 55% of the cars in the world.Tough record to top for the world’s first mass-produced vehicle.


The Toyota Corolla is the most often sold car on the globe. It’s said that a Corolla is sold every 40 seconds. Something to be said since Toyota is the leading manufacturer in automobiles producing some 13000 vehicles a day.


The most expensive car ever sold at auction to date was the 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO. It racked up a staggering $48.4 million USD. It beat the previous record holder at $38.1 million USD. The best part is it was also a 250 GTO, but with a different serial.


The most expensive car of 2019 was Bugatti’s one-off build La Voiture Noire. It sold for $19 million USD brand new.


Some Makes and Their Meanings


A lot of brands of car are named for their founders–Henry Ford, Karl Benz, Soichiro Honda, Enzo Ferrari– you get the picture. But there are others that took a different route. They decide to depend on muses or mythological creatures and constellations for their course in history.


BMW actually started as aircraft manufacturer which is why the logo symbolizes a propeller. BMW is an acronym for Bayerische Motoren Werke, or Bavarian Motor Works in English.


Hyundai is the Korean word for “Modernity” or “The Present Age.”


Mazda takes the name of the Zoroastrian God of reason and intelligence, Ahura Mazda.

The M logo that they bare is meant to symbolize the flight toward the future.


Subaru is the Japanese name for the constellation Taurus. The six stars in the logo represent the Pleiades cluster of stars in the same constellation.


The Volvo Logo is one of the oldest western ideograms. The circle with the arrow pointing out is an ancient symbol for Iron. The word Volvo is the Latin word for “I roll.”


After a legal battle for copyright infringement when he left the company he founded, German engineer August Horch had to rename his new manufacturing company. His son recommended using the word AUDI, which is latin for “Hear.” It’s similar to Horch in German.


Recycling Your Ride

It’s the end of the road for your old beater. It has reached End-of-Life Vehicle status. What happens to it? We’ve all seen the car crusher in the movies. What happens with all the materials? They are recycled. 


Most cars are manufactured with steel from old cars. 


Steel is the most recycled metal on earth.


In canada some 5-6% of the national automotive fleet is taken off the roads annually. Up to 95% of those vehicles are recycled. And it’s not just the steel… 


Materials from vehicles that can be recycled include:

  • Tires
  • Batteries
  • Glass
  • Belts
  • Rubber hoses
  • Carpets

All to be repurposed for other vehicles and more.


By weight, 84% of your old vehicle is recycled. Millions of tonnes of steel recycled every year.


We Haven’t Always Driven on The Right?!

With English colonization came many of their customs, like driving on the left. Aside from certain French territories the whole world drove on the left. After achieving sovereignty from England the country was glad to be rid of the final ties to former British rule. 


Chronologically the provinces who joined the right-side drive:


  • British Columbia’s interior switched in 1921, but the metropolitan areas like Vancouver were delayed a year with retrofitting the street cars and tracks. January 1st, 1922 was the official date.


  • New Brunswick was on December 1st, 1922. The act authorizing the change was passed in 1920 but was met with opposition from influential MLAs citing that New Brunswick and Nova Scotia needed to switch at the same time.


  • Nova Scotia eventually followed suit a few months later on April 15th, 1923.


  • Prince Edward Island–which didn’t permit cars on the island until 1919– made the switch relatively easy on May 1st, 1923.


  • Newfoundland tailed behind a few decades. They didn’t join Canada until 1949 and drove on the left until 1947. 


As the world’s most popular form of transportation for over a hundred and thirty years, it’s no wonder cars have some crazy events and milestones. The automobile has gone through so many changes. From the first combustion to the electric era, cars are going to continue to support our transport needs for the foreseeable future.


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