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The 14 Most Revolutionary Cars That Changed the World

1671 Views 1 Reply 2 Participants Last post by  Greenmanedlion

One hundred and thirty years is a long time.

That’s the age, more or less, of the automotive industry and naturally, its history is steep. Thousands of makes and models have come and gone over the decades, but only a few have really revolutionized the way auto manufacturers do business.

These are the vehicles that made everyone sit up and take notice. The ones that reshaped the North American automotive landscape.

Narrowing the field down to just one vehicle per decade was not easy. We focused on cars, trucks and SUVs that changed the industry specifically in North America, although that doesn’t mean it had to specifically be a North American vehicle. So, here are the 14 vehicles that changed the world and a few honorable mentions as well.
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Most of the list I basically agree with, actually. I think you could probably come up with something more revolutionary for the 1920s than the Model A, which was not revolutionary at all. It was Ford giving up and accepting that their oddball Model T's design and control layout was not the future. For example, the Lancia Lambda was much more innovative- unitary body construction, independent front suspension (sliding pillar type, still used in the Morgan Classic), Lancia's own shock absorber system, and the V4 SOHC (!) engine. And unitary construction, independent suspension, shock absorbers, and overhead cam engines are all things that became practically universal.

However, the one that I can't countenance is the Volkswagen Beetle. First of all, the Beetle was a nearly complete rip-off of Hans Ledwinka's Tatra T570. It was not innovative, and in fact was basically the format of all small to medium European cars from the post war until Simca created its 1100 which set the format for the drivetrain of every inexpensive car, and the body shape of every inexpensive car in Europe- transversely mounted engine, separate transmission mounted on the end of the engine driving unequal length drive shafts to the front wheels, five door hatch back, unitary construction.

It wasn't the Beetle's formula of design that made it popular- it was the fact that it was a small, inexpensive car that was built better than the most expensive American cars of the day. And none of the American manufacturers even gave thought to building their cars well, at least until the '90s and the Japanese, so the Beetle didn't really influence them much. In fact, American efforts at small cars started well before the Beetle set foot on our shores (Kaiser Henry J, Nash Rambler, Hudson Jet), and failed miserably. Because they were small, but not well built.

The innovative car of the 50s is generally accepted in Automotive lore, and you not selecting it makes me see red. The innovative car of the 50's was made by one of the runner ups for the innovative cars of the 30s (there are so many good candidates that I don't take issue with that, though). The firm of the greatest automotive pioneer of all, French Jew Andre Citroen, debuted the car that was perhaps the most innovative design to ever come to market. The Citroen DS, pronounced "De Ess" or Déesse, meaning Goddess, was ahead of its time.

Some people say that a car was ahead of its time. Maybe by 5 years, or sometimes 10. But the Citroen DS was 50 years ahead of its time. Front wheel drive, unitary construction, hydraulic suspension self-leveling and adjustable, semi automatic transmission, hydraulic steering, fully hydraulic all disc brakes (you used a hydraulic bulb to brake rather than a pedal!), and even tracking headlights (they pointed with the steering wheel). The DS was sized between the short and long wheel base W116 S-class, and larger than the S-class of the year of its introduction, and was its primary competitor of its time.

Despite the DS21's small 108bhp four cylinder, 100 mph cruising was permitted by its spaceship like low-drag body. As the S-class's primary competitor for its 20 year life, it outsold it most years, with a final production tally of 1.5 million. And for the first and only time in the postwar era, the DS ended its long model run the most advanced and capable mass market car of its day. So much wizardry and technical innovation went into the DS, its development bankrupted Citroen.

To say any car of the 50s was more innovative, let alone not to mention it at all, is simply ludicrous!
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