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From AutoCult's website:

The Early Beginnings

The birth of the self-propelled automobile is recognized as January 29. 1886. On that date, Karl Benz applied for a patent for a vehicle powered by an internal combustion engine with the German Patent Office. Patent number 37435 was issued to him on November 2, 1886. This invention was designated as "patent motor car #1" and enabled Benz to  protect his design and assemble production versions of his invention. It also signalled the beginning of the "age of the automobile"!

Before Benz' patent was issued, there had been numerous attempts to create a machine capable of moving under it's own power. In 1769, French artillery officer Nicolas Josepg Cugnot developed a steam-powered vehicle that was unique; it was designed transport military artillery; not people! As a point of interest, it was not equipped with any type of brakes, so the first "test drive" ended in the first crash in auto history.  In 1879, Viennese inventor Siegfried Marcus developed a vehicle with a gasoline engine, but, it was not successful.

The bodywork of the first rudimentary automobiles depended heavily on the carriage coachbuilding trades.  As development of "the auto" progressed, construction depended less on carriage techniques and more on methods to reduce weight and increase performance.  This development was resisted by lobbyists within the equine and coachbuilding industry who feared a decline in horses as a means of transportation in favor of new gasoline-powered vehicles.  In fact, autos and trucks were "the way forward"!   Pioneer owners were seen as "nouveau riche" drivers of new, fashionable vehicles, but, the first autos were very expensive.  Development of motorized vehicles could not be stopped and it was the beginning of a techical and design process which still has no end in sight!

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