Automobiles and Motorcycles
Throughout the twentieth century, automobiles played a key role in bringing modern society into existence. They helped provide transportation for people and goods, and also helped expand tourism-related industries. The automobile was also an important force in transforming the petroleum industry.
The word “automobile” is derived from the Greek prefix “auto”, which means “of itself”. The term is used to describe a self-propelled passenger vehicle. It typically has four or eight wheels, an engine, and a body. Depending on its end use, a vehicle can have a rear engine, front engine, rear engine, or a combination.
The first American-made gasoline car was created in 1893 by bicycle mechanics J. Frank and Charles Duryea. They called it a Stout Scarab. It had a rear engine and was designed to carry passengers.
The first auto race was won by J. Frank and Charles Duryea in 1895. The automobile quickly became popular in the United States, bringing urban amenities to rural America. It also facilitated the movement of agricultural products. The automobile brought better medical care to rural areas.
In the 1920s, the automobile industry became the biggest consumer of many industrial products. It boosted the petroleum industry, and helped transform the steel industry.
In the United States, a higher per capita income and economic development encouraged demand for automobiles. This led to a quick dominance of the industry in the first half of the twentieth century.
By the 1920s, the “Big Three” auto companies had emerged: Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler. Their manufacturing tradition helped lower prices for automobiles, making them affordable for middle-class families.