Automotive Trivia

Chronological evolution

1782 James Watt builds the first engine crank.
1792 The first U.S. toll roads opened in PA and CT.
1860 Jean Lenoir invents the spark plug.
1887 The Benz became the first car offered for sale.
1896 The Duryea became the first production motor vehicle in the U.S.
1897 The first auto insurance policy is purchased in Westfield, MA.
1900 The first Guide Michelin published mostly containing a list of gas stations in France.
1901 The first Grand Prix race was won with an average speed of 46 mph.
1901 The first American car manufactured in any quantity, the "Curved Dash" Olds is offered for $650.
1913 More than one million cars registered in the U.S.
1914 The Chevrolet bow-tie emblem first appears.
1914 The first electric traffic light was installed in Cleveland.
1923 Powered windshield wipers became standard equipment on many cars.
1923 A radio was first offered as an accessory.
1939 Buick introduces turn signals as standard equipment.
1946 The first power windows were introduced.
1948 Harley Earl introduces the tail fin on the Cadillac. Fins don't go away for over a decade.
1953 Chevrolet introduces its Harley Earl-designed Corvette.
1954 Padded dashboards introduced for safety.
1956 Electric door locks introduced on several luxury models.
1958 The first remote adjusted side view mirror.
1958 Ford introduces the first electric trunk release.
1958 Chrysler introduces the day-night rearview mirror.
1960 All-weather antifreeze plus coolant introduced.
1963 Seat belts first offered as standard equipment.
1965 Rear seat belts became standard on most cars.
1974 National 55 mph speed limit enacted after oil shortages.
1984 Chrysler introduces the Dodge Caravan and Plymouth voyager minivans.
1972 Cars traveled along LA freeways at an average speed of 60 mph. In 1982 the average was only 17 mph! 
1974 The average American family spent 33 percent of their yearly income for a new car. In 1995 the average was 50 percent.
1995 The Big Three sold a whopping 97,000 cars in Japan.