Without a shadow of a doubt, no device has ever changed the face of the Earth more than the car. To list all the areas of society touched by motor vehicles would be all but impossible. In this article, we broke down 20 of the most influential cars in the history of the breed.
The story of the Mini dates back to 1959. The original Mini was introduced in 1959 by Austin Motors and sold until 2000. Although the British car industry is full of exclusive limited production models, the Mini proved to be the most influential vehicle made. The reason for such praise is that the Mini is an immensely capable little car. Historians agree that the Mini motorized Great Britain and has effected every car maker since. How do you ask? The Mini was the first vehicle to have a transversely-mounted engine with front-wheel drive. Fast forward 60 years and all front-wheel-drive compact cars in the world have the same layout as the Mini. Also, the Mini was tiny but amazingly could seat five people on the inside.
The Willy’s Jeep was originally conceived as a light military vehicle. Prior to WW II, the Willys Jeep was just being fleshed out, but in 1942, when the US entered the war, production rapidly began. It ended in 1946 after Willys built more than 600,000 vehicles. According to Century Jeep of Mt. Airy, MD, the original Willys Jeep was a simple machine. It was powered by a tiny 2.2-liter four-cylinder with 60 HP. It also had a simple four-wheel-drive system, an innovative concept for the 1940s. After the war, the unique concept of a rugged, compact and extremely capable off-road machine evolved into the Jeep brand.
Ford Model T
It would be hard to overstate the importance of the Ford Model T in automotive history and car culture. This was the car that singlehandedly created the car world in 1908. The Model T was the first mass-produced automobile with Ford building over 15 million until 1927. This car laid the foundation for the modern car industry. Also, the Ford Model T was the first car they produced in different versions. Ford designed it to easily transform into a truck, agricultural machine or even into a military vehicle. By the time Ford discontinued the Model T, the automobile age had successfully started.
Chevrolet Corvette Stingray
Chevrolet presented the second-generation Corvette in 1963. Since the Corvette was now a halo car for GM, lots of effort and money went into research and development of the second generation. With a new platform, independent rear suspension, engines, and a stunning new body, the 1963 Corvette Stingray was one of the best-looking cars of the 1960s.
The Stingray got its name from GM’s 1961 Stingray concept and a visual resemblance to a stingray shark. With its closed headlights, split rear window, bulged fenders, and round cabin, the Stingray was one of the most fascinating design exercises ever.
The Porsche 911 is one of the most interesting models in car history and a success story that has lasted more than 50 years. The 911 story is one of constant effort and evolution. The 911 was basically a sportier version of the modest Volkswagen Beetle. The first 911s were big for Porsche, but soon their engineers realized the rear engine had its disadvantages in terms of weight balance, handling, and driving dynamics. In particular, early models were scary to drive hard because drivers never knew when the rear end would break loose. So, Porsche invested an unbelievable amount of time and effort into perfecting the car. Today, over 50 years later, the 911 is the best selling sports car in the world, with Porsche selling over a million to date.
The greatest “what if” story in automotive history is the saga of Tucker Torpedo. There are numerous books and even movies about Preston Tucker and his vision of an advanced sedan. He is famous for his quest for success and the conspiracy against him and his company. Preston established the Tucker car company in the late 1940s. Soon, he presented the Tucker Torpedo prototype with numerous innovations, from safety glass and a central headlight that followed the movement of the steering wheel, to a roomy interior and engine in the back.
Basically, the Tucker Torpedo was so advanced that Chrysler, Ford, and GM, were afraid it would affect their market share. So while Tucker prepared for full-scale production, the Big Three slapped him with a lawsuit to stop production. Unfortunately, this stopped the company so Preston only built between 51 of his Tucker Torpedos. Today, almost all new cars feature some of the innovations that Tucker premiered in the 1940s.