Every year the automotive industry rolls out their latest and greatest vehicles and concept cars at auto shows around the globe in a bid to capture consumers' interest.
Automotive innovation is a wondrous thing. Car companies, inventors and others have been demonstrating big thinking for years, and we have the evidence to prove it.
Enjoy this brief history of automobile innovations -- and transportation types that are nearly automobiles.
You may recognize the gentleman on the left. He is Thomas Edison, and here he is posing with his Baker electric car. He is holding one of the batteries used to power the vehicle. The Hulton Archive identifies the photo as created in 1895. However, the Baker Motor Vehicle Co. was founded in 1899. It was located in Cleveland.
This photo shows Dr. Manfred Curry with his invention, the Curry Landskiff, in 1925. The vehicle, which reportedly could reach speeds up to 35 miles per hour, was powered by the feet. Some descriptions liken it to a rowing machine on wheels, which makes sense given Curry's yachting background. The vehicle came both in clad versions, shown here, and unclad versions. In the unclad versions you can see the movement of the driver's feet.
Check out this design for a car with a collapsible roof and windscreen. Leander Pelton filed a patent for this vehicle in 1923, and it was published in 1926. The proposed advantage of this vehicle was the ability to store it in an upright fashion, making the auto a good choice for areas where parking was at a premium.
Behold the Dynasphere. Invented by J.A. Purves and his son, this electric-driven wheel was capable of speeds up to 30 miles per hour. Purves filed for a patent on this transport vehicle in 1931.
The patent filing includes: "Among the In practice I have found that a vehicle made in accordance with the description ... travels along very easily and negotiates unevenness in the ground or road with surprising ease. Further, shocks due to unevenness appear to be reduced to a great extent by the spherical area being of fairly large dimensions and therefore not entering into small holes or unevenness on the ground."
This photo was taken in the 1940s, but the vehicle dates to 1896. That's Henry Ford on the left with his wife, Clara, seated in the first Ford car built and tested in Detroit.
Do you recognize the Allard Clipper, an early 1950s three-wheeled car marketed as having an "indestructible all-plastic body" and the lowest running cost. It was designed to hold three adults--and could also accommodate two children in the optional dickey seat that unfolded in the rear of the vehicle.
The mid 1950s appears to have been the era of three-wheeled vehicles. This cabin cruiser, circa 1955, was produced by aircraft manufacturer Messerschmitt & Co. at factories in Regensburg, Germany, during a period when the company could not produce aircraft.
While this may look like something from the futuristic TV cartoon series "The Jetsons," it's in reality the Fulgar from French car maker Simca. The automobile maker introduced the Fulgar in 1958 as a show model car designed to show what cars could look like in the year 2000. It was intended to be atomic powered, guided by radar and used only two wheels balanced by gyroscopes when driven at over 150 kilometers per hour.
This circa 1963 photo illustrates Sony's interest in portable micro televisions more than 50 years ago.
This circa 1964 photo shows the Urbania, which was invented by Marquis Piero Bargagli, reportedly to solve problems of limited parking space. At one time it was considered the world's smallest working car. The Urbania's engine was located in the center of the chassis, and the seats rotated on a circular rail so passengers could descend from any spot.
The prototype La Quasar cube car was designed by Vietnamese engineer and designer Quasar Khanh, for easy access from all four sides. It reportedly could reach speeds of up to 95 kilometers per hour. This photo is circa 1967. As an aside, Khanh (born Nguyen Manh Khanh) has tackled multiple design projects, including inflatable furniture.
We have no explanation for this photo, taken circa 1975, but it seems like a fitting conclusion to auto innovations.
The Buckminister Fuller Dymaxion car would be a great addition to the list next time you update the article. Also, the Tuckers were most unique and Alex Tremulis the lead designer is a great story to tell. He designed for Tucker, Ford, and others but was too far out in front of the world for his designs to catch on. He also designed the Bonneville record holder motorcycle for the most hours over 200 MPH. The bike is the Gyronaut XR-1 and that is a great story as well.
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