The word “ubiquitous” might have been coined specifically for the Honda Civic. Civics are so common, such an everyday sight that you don’t even notice them anymore…until you actually pay attention and realize that there are a LOT of Honda Civics on the road.
On July 23, 2007, the six millionth Civic rolled off of Honda’s production lines; the Civic was introduced in 1972 and has been through numerous generations and nine separate design iterations along the way. The tiny two-door first-generation Civic couldn’t have come along at a better time; in ’72, the American auto industry was being shaken up by the first oil crunch as the Middle East turned off the spigot. Big, wasteful cars were suddenly on the outs, American companies were scrambling to introduce (very mediocre) small cars, and in no time the ...[more]Read More
Henry Ford wasn’t the first out of the gate with automobiles and the internal-combustion engine – Daimler had a jump on that in the late 19th century – but Ford was definitely the first to see the potential of mass production, mass marketing, and the economy of scale that could make cars affordable for the middle class.
On July 15, 1903, Ford Motor Company took its first order, for an $850 two-cylinder Model A with a “tonneau,” or back seat. Manufactured at Ford’s early Mack Street plant in Detroit, the car was delivered to its new owner, a Chicago dentist, about a week later.
Ford had been working as chief engineer at Detroit’s Edison Illuminating Company plant when he designed and built his first car, the Quadricycle, in 1896. By 1903, he had lined up the investors and financing to fo ...[more]Read More
Engineer/architect Buckminster Fuller was a true early-20th-century eccentric, perhaps best known for his geodesic dome and semi-prefab Dymaxion House, which could be assembled on-site almost anywhere.
In the 1920s, Fuller began drawing up his Dymaxion Car (the name is a mashup of “dynamic,” “maximum” and “ion”). The first sketches were pure left-field stuff, with a teardrop design, a single tail fin and a third wheel that was intended to lift off the ground at speed. After some redesigns, Fuller set up a production facility for the Dymaxion in an old Locomobile automotive factory in Connecticut. The first Dymaxion was produced on July 12, 1933, with a steel frame and a body made of curved ash wood panels with an aluminum skin and painted canvas roof.
The Dymaxion was projected to to ...[more]Read More
If you’ve ever seen pictures of collisions from the 40s or 50s, you might have been surprised at how well the cars would hold up in a fairly serious accident. Even with collisions at 30 or 40 mph, the cars would look only slightly banged-up…the passengers, on the other hand, usually fared much worse. In those days before ‘crumple zone’ designs, the passengers would be the ones absorbing the energy of an impact. In fact, the prevailing wisdom in those days was that a passenger’s chances were much better if he was “thrown clear” of the wreck.
Today, of course, we know better.
By the mid 50s, padded dashboards were starting to appear in some cars, dashboards were being redesigned to get rid of protruding knobs and switches, safety glass was improving and so ...[more]Read More