10 great motoring milestones

Vintage car

With more cars on Britain's roads than ever before, it's hard to imagine when seeing one was a rarity. But there was a time when only the wealthy, and those not afraid of new technologies, could revel in the invention of the automobile.

That all changed in 1908 when Henry Ford introduced the Model T and transformed the motoring landscape forever.

The Model T, often called the Tin Lizzie, was mass-produced in numerous countries, including England and Ireland. Before production of the model ceased in 1927, more than 16 million had been built.

Ford transformed the motoring world and remains a household name, so, in celebration of his birthday on 30th July, we're reminiscing about 10 great car launches to see just how much motoring has changed in 130 years.

1769 — First powered road vehicle

In 1769, Nicholas Cugnot designed a steam truck, capable of 2.5mph, to transport cannon for the French Army.

1886 — Benz Patent Motorwagen

On 29th January 1886, German inventor Karl Benz filed a patent for a 'horseless carriage' which was the first car with an internal combustion engine. While this invention was revolutionary in creating motoring as we know it today, the Motorwagen could barely top 10mph.

1907 — Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost

One year before the introduction of the Model T and one year after forming a partnership, Rolls-Royce built the 40/50hp model in aluminium and silver which became known as the Silver Ghost. A must-have for Lords and Viscounts, the gorgeous new design heralded the end of the horse and carriage era for the aristocracy.

1938 — The people's car

While prototypes of the Volkswagen Beetle had been around since 1931, production on Ferdinand Porsche's Beetle didn't begin until 1938. Since then, more than 21.5 million Beetles have been built.

1941 — Willys-Overland Jeep

The Jeep became the famous military vehicle of the Second World War, and more than 600,000 were produced for the Allied forces.

1948 — Land Rover

A year after a prototype was created, the first Land Rover was launched at the Amsterdam Motor Show in 1948. Inspired by the wartime Jeep, Series 1 Land Rovers were the start of this iconic car.

1957 — Fiat 500

The original Fiat 500 was just three metres long and became a huge hit across Europe until production ceased in 1975. A modern re-launch in 2007 has made the Fiat 500 a household name once more.

1959 — Austin Mini

This car has become an icon of British culture and its introduction in 1959 set a new trend in motoring. Before production ceased in 2000, more than 5.3 million had been built. The Mini continues to be a common sight as BMW launched a new model to bring this cult car into the 21st century.

1976 — Volkswagen Golf GTI

Three years after the Golf was launched, the GTI made hatches the new motoring hit and it became the car of choice for the youths of the day.

1997 — Toyota Prius

Produced in Japan in 1997, the Prius was the first commercial hybrid car and was launched in the UK four years later. The Prius gained further attention thanks to its celebrity following which included actor Leonardo DiCaprio.

The motoring landscape has changed dramatically since the launch of the Model T in 1908, and with the introduction of autonomous vehicles the motoring world looks set to go under another transformation in the years to come.

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