Personal transport has come a long way since the days of the horse and cart. Cars now are so advanced that we are reaching the stage where they won’t even need us anymore, with automatic driving reaching ‘when’ rather than ‘if’ status. However, there are a small number of cars which have been particularly significant over the years – considered way ahead of their time and bringing those advances to the rest of the field.
Ford Model T
This was the car which made motoring affordable to the masses, thanks to its advanced method of assembly using a production line rather than hand-building. Some 15 million Model Ts were made from 1908 to 1927.
Released in 1955, the DS was created with the help of an aeronautical engineer, which explains the innovative technology and futuristic aerodynamic design. This was the car which introduced Citroen’s hydro-pneumatic self-levelling suspension system, which completely changed the way cars felt to drive on poor surfaces. Other modern features included a semi-automatic gearbox, power steering and a lightweight fibreglass roof for a lower centre of gravity.
The Mini was ahead of its time not only in its funky styling and tiny size, but also for its revolutionary mechanicals. It showed manufacturers and the public that small cars could be both beautiful and entertaining. The front-wheel-drive layout allowed engineers to minimise the amount of space used by mechanicals in favour of cabin space, and other manufacturers soon followed suit. Since its release in 1959, the Mini has become an automotive and cultural icon.
Looking like a super-sleek spacecraft, Mercedes has tagged its 2015 concept car ‘Luxury in Motion’. It is designed to show how driverless vehicles will integrate into our lives as so much more than just transport. The working model, powered by a hydrogen fuel cell, can be controlled via a smartphone app and features an interior of restrained opulence – four leather chairs are configured in a lounge style, facing each other, as the ‘driver’ does not need to look at the road. The F015 can be manually controlled, but there’s really no need when it offers so much entertainment away from the wheel – infotainment touchscreens in each door panel, eye-recognition software and gesture control. Could this be the sort of car that totalmotion.co.uk will be offering to car leasing Leicester firms in the near future?
Aiming to break the current World Land Speed Record by reaching 1,000mph hour, this supersonic car combines rocket propulsion with a jet engine on four wheels. Flat-out speed is no challenge. What’s special about the Bloodhound SSC is how it will remain stable, safe and controllable while reaching that speed. It will be a long time before we see rocket-propelled cars in the average supermarket car park, but the engineering team behind the Bloodhound does hope that some of its developments will filter through to racing cars and be adapted for use in the mainstream.
The Lunar Rover was simplicity itself, and its construction techniques were basic rather than advanced. However, this super-lightweight electric buggy was driven on the Moon. You don’t get much more advanced than that.