Only an Expert Knows All of These Automotive Firsts. Do You?



6 Min Quiz

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About This Quiz

With so many cars on the road in America, it can be easy to forget that automobiles are a relatively recent invention. In 1899, for instance, American manufacturers produced just 2,500 vehicles. Thanks to Henry Ford and his production lines, closer to half a million cars were produced in the U.S. by 1913. A century later, there are more than 260 million registered vehicles in the country. 

As the use of cars has grown over the past 100 years or so, our entire way of life has changed to accommodate them. There were roads, of course, then safety devices like traffic lights or stop signs. Then came things like speed limits, safety gear, pollution control standards and crash test dummies. Eventually, people realized that drinking and driving didn't mix, leading to the introduction of DUI laws. Along the way, new technologies were developed, including talking cars, car phones, V8 engines and electric vehicles.

How familiar are you with this history? Do you know what the first mass-produced vehicle in the U.S. was, or what company introduced the three-point seat belt? Any idea when the first joystick-controlled ride, or earliest talking cars hit the streets? What about the introduction of the first parking meter or traffic light?

 Think you know everything about the biggest auto industry firsts? Take our quiz to find out! 

Which car had the first V8 engine?

The Buffum Runabout was the first vehicle to have a V8 engine. It produced around 40 brake horsepower, which was quite substantial in 1905.


When was the first petrol-driven motor vehicle accident recorded in the United States?

The first accident recorded on American soil happened in 1891 in Ohio when John William Lambert's 1-cylinder car hit a tree root and served off the road and into a post. No serious injuries were recorded.


A talking car? Which was the first to do so and no, it wasn't K.I.T.T. from the Knight Rider TV series.

In the early 80s, the Datsun 810 Maxima was released with phonograph that could say six phrases, for example 'left door is open'.


Which car employed a joystick to steer with in the late 1980s?

In the late 80s, Saab equipped one of their 9000 models with a joystick taken directly from their aviation division. It controlled steering, brakes and the accelerator. The idea was quickly shelved.


Which car was the first (and probably only) one to have a two-section body?

In 1958, the Sir Vival was launched. Built with two separate body structures, the front housed the engine while the rear kept the occupants of the cars safe. It wasn't a hit, despite claims it was the safest car ever built.


When was the first fatality from a motor vehicle accident recorded (worldwide)?

The first fatality from a motor vehicle accident occurred in 1896 when Bridgett Driscoll was run down by a vehicle while crossing the grounds of Crystal Palace in London.


Today, mobile phones mean we can make calls from our cars - hopefully not while driving. But when was the first phone call actually made from a car?

In 1946, a team from Bell Labs mounted a phone in a car and successfully made calls with it. It only worked in metropolitan areas and could only make three calls at a time.


When was the first driver caught for driving under the influence?

A British cabby, who was driving an electric taxi at the time, received a fine for driving under the influence after he crashed his vehicle.


Hybrid vehicles like the Toyota Prius are extremely popular now. But when was the first hybrid engine devised?

The first hybrid car was in fact invented at the dawn of the 20th century. In 1899, the Lohner-Porsche Semper Vivus was invented and the legendary Ferdinand Porsche, just 25 at the time, was involved in its development.


Hmmm, Hmmm, Hmmm, Hmmm! When were the first crash test dummies used to see the impact of a crash on humans?

Auto manufacturers started using crash test dummies in 1952 to see the impact a crash would have on a person sitting in different positions in the car. Interestingly, they first used cadavers. Eew!


A pedestrian safe car? Yes, one was actutally built and promised to protect pedestrians in case of an accident. What year did it see the light of day?

The Aurora was a pedestrian-safe car built by Father Alfred A. Juliano. It featured a scoop in the front to push pedestrians out of the way as well as other measures to ensure their safety. Only one was ever built.


Route 66-the dream road trip of car lovers around the world. But when was the first crossing of America undertaken?

The first trip across America was undertaken in 1903 by Dr. Horatio Nelson Jackson, Sewall K. Crocker and a bulldog. At the time, America only had around 150 miles of paved roads, making their feat even more incredible.


What was the first mass-produced car in America?

Looking for the Ford Model T in the list of answers? Well, the Model T is the most famous of the early mass-produced cars, but it certainly wasn't the first. That honor belonged to the Curved Dash from Oldsmobile, launched in 1901.


What is the fastest production car in the world?

The official record for the fastest car in the world belongs to the SSC Ultimate Aero that clocked an incredible 256.14mph (412.22kph).


So we all love listening to music while driving, but when was the first radio installed in a vehicle?

The first radio was actually placed in a Model T Ford by George Frost, a schoolboy from Chicago, in 1922. The first official radio appeared in a Daimler limo in that same year. It was installed by the Marconi Company and shown at London's Olympia Motor Show.


Car theft is rife throughout the world today, but when was the first car stolen?

Believe it or not, the first car theft happened a few years after motor vehicles as we know them, were invented. A certain Baron de Zuylen of Paris had his Peugeot stolen by his own mechanic. Luckily, it wasn't the fastest getaway car around and he was easily caught.


The first vehicle registration plates were issued in France but in what year?

Believe it or not, the French thought it important that all early vehicles could be identified in some way. And that is how registration plates were born.


When were the first traffic signs for motor vehicles specifically, introduced?

Today, we have traffic signs for just about everything. The first traffic signs were introduced in Gloucester, England in 1901.


Do you hate parking meters? Most of us do! When were they first introduced into the world of motoring?

The first parking meters were setup in Oklahoma City in 1935.


Do you know which year the first proper mass storage petrol station when into operation?

Although motorists could buy gas for their vehicles at various places (including pharmacies), the first proper petrol station that kept gas in a storage facility was opened in 1905; it was opened in St Louis, Missouri.


When did the first car cross the magical 100mph barrier?

The first car to break 100mph was a Napier 60HP driven by Arthur MacDonald. His time was recorded over a mile long track at Ormond Beach in Florida, in 1905.


What is the first production car to make 1000bhp?

Not only does the SSC Ultimate Aero hold the fastest speed ever clocked (256.14mph or 412.22kph), it is also the first car to break the 1000 brake horsepower barrier.


Active aerodynamics were first seen on which sports car?

Thanks to its days as a Group B Rally car, the Porsche 959 had active aerodynamic systems that would kick in at certain speeds. This greatly increased the stability of the car.


What year were active aerodynamics first introduced by Porsche?

Active aerodynamics were used by Porsche in their 959 Group B Rally car in 1986.


Although four-wheel drive had been around before, most notably on off-road cars, which was the first production vehicle to use the system?

The first production vehicle to use a four-wheel drive system was the Jensen FF. The system itself had already been used before, most notably in military vehicles during World War II.


In what year did the Jensen FF employ a four-wheel drive system in a production car for the first time?

In 1966, the Jensen FF became the first production car to use a four-wheel drive system.


Turbochargers are found in many modern cars today, but which was the first to use this device?

The first car to make use of a turbocharger was the aptly named Oldsmobile Jetfire. Attached to a 3.5-liter V8 engine, it helped produced 215bhp and 301lb ft of torque.


In what year did the Oldsmobile Jetfire become the first car to make use of a turbocharger?

The Oldsmobile Jetfire became the first car to use a turbocharger in 1962.


Although diesel fuel injection was common at the time, what was the first petrol-driven car to use fuel injection?

Before fuel injection, the Goliath GP700 pushed out 25 brake horsepower. After fuel injection, this rose to 29!


In what year did the Goliath GP400 become the first petrol-driven car to use fuel injection?

The Goliath GP400 become the first car to use fuel injection in 1952.


Today they are an essential part of car safety. What company devised the seat belt?

Swedish car manufacturer Volvo became the first company to use seat belts on their vehicles.


In what year did Volvo introduce seat belts for their vehicles?

The Volvo 3-point safety belt was invented by Nils Bohlin. It was standard on all Volvo cars from 1959.


What was the name of the first car to break the sound barrier?

In order to break the sound barrier, Thrust SSC had to reach a speed of 763 mph. Incredibly, thanks to two jet engines producing over 110,000 brake horsepower, it did.


In what year did Thrust SSC break the sound barrier?

Thrust SSS achieve its incredible feat of becoming the first car to break the sound barrier in 1997.


We have all been there... a speeding ticket! But when was the first one issued?

A certain Walter Arnold took it upon himself to travel at 8 mph in a 2 mph zone. He was caught... by a policeman on a bicycle! Arnold was charged with speeding.


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