Manufacturers and Their Cars Through The Years
You’ll have heard the phrase ‘They don’t make them like they used too”. Or “Nothing is built to last these days”. Usually uttered by the older generation in relation to things like microwaves. But from cars to hoovers to fridges, nothing is made like it was in yesteryear. There’s a good reason for that. Despite the conspiracy theories that everything we buy is micro chipped to malfunction almost immediately outside of warranty. I’m not joking. My mum for one is a firm believer of this.
The actual reason things aren’t made the way they used to be, is simply that technology has evolved. Machines have become more advanced and this has opened up additional opportunities for manufacturers the world over.
In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the UK’s most popular car manufacturers and their cars through the years. In a fascinating comparison of their earliest models of car right through to their present day innovations.
One of the UK’s most popular car brands, Ford, have been producing motor cars for over 100 years. Their first car was revolutionary for the time but compared to new Ford models the technology that went into the Ford Model T will seem archaic.
Ford Model T.
On October 1, 1908, the first production of the Model T Ford goes down in the history books. Between 1908 and 1927, Ford would build some 15 million Model T cars.
The Model T Ford featured a hand cranked engine in which the driver needed to advance the spark in the engine via a lever. The handbrake was not used for stopping the car, its core purpose was to disengage the gears. Another key feature was a hand throttle. The hand throttle has since been replaced by foot accelerator pedals.
When the car reached a speed of around 10 miles per hour, the driver released the pedal so that the transmission would shift itself into high gear. The Ford Model T has just two gears, high and low and to reverse. The driver would need to depress the ‘low’ pedal halfway whilst simultaneously pressing the middle pedal down to engage reverse gear and control the throttle by hand. That would certainly make a ‘reverse around the corner’ manoeuvre tricky!
Fast forward to 2017 and the Ford Focus we know and love today is worlds apart from the Model T design. With two pedals (outrageous compared to the original Ford Model T) and a 6 gear transmission. Not only that, hands-free Sat Nav, Blind Spot Information System and innovative Active City Stop. These safety features would have been deemed as witchcraft back in the 1900’s!
Another dead cert on the popularity scale for UK car buyers is the Volkswagen. VW cars and vans will be found around almost every corner on UK roads. With a great reputation for build quality and longevity, it’s easy to see why it’s such a popular brand.
Officially the longest-running and most manufactured car of all time. The VW Beetle was on sale from 1938 until 2003 and designed originally as a two-door four-passenger budget car. Originally named the “Type I” or the 1200, the nickname Beetle was adopted by the brand in 1967. Leader of Nazi Germany Adolf Hitler had some involvement in the creation of the VW Beetle who gave the brief to Volkswagen. He wanted a cheap car that could be mass-produced for use on his new road network in Germany. The design and build were developed by Ferdinand Porsche in 1934.
The Beetle’s iconic bug design has remained throughout the car’s long lifespan with various modernised features as the decades passed. Originally, the Beetle had 24 horsepower and cable brakes but by 1951 these had been developed to hydraulically operated drums at all four corners, and the engine gained a Solex carburettor. The power swells from 24 horsepower to 30.
The VW Beetle had a split-rear-window design which was replaced for a large single oval rear window by 1953.
Fast forward to 2017 and the VW Golf is the brand’s best selling vehicle to the UK market. While the Beetle still maintains popularity among classic car enthusiasts and as a popular choice for second-hand car buyers, the Golf wins the popularity contest.
A sporty shape on the Golf makes it a far cry from the round bulbs of the lovable Beetle and the futuristic features such as Adaptive Cruise Control. The Front Assist area monitoring system includes City Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Monitoring. The dynamic light assist allows you to always use your main beam while driving at night on Country roads and not blind other road users. Not only that, the engine of the Golf offers maximum performance. You can reach a top speed of 246 km/h with a whopping 169 kW (229 HP).
Oh, and it takes just 6.5 seconds to go from 0-100 km/h.
One of the great names in British motoring, Vauxhall‘s history traces back more than 100 years. Having produced some of the UK’s most popular vehicles in this time we’ll all be familiar with some if not all of these big names. The Victor, Cavalier, Corsa and the Bedford Van. The Vauxhall brand was built in 1857 but the first car manufactured by them wasn’t until 1903.
The first Vauxhall motorcar was just five horsepower and it had no reverse gear. Named the 6HP it had a slow-revving single cylinder engine. The chassis was forward-thinking for the time. It combined the chassis and lower body into a composite steel and wood structure. The 6HP cost £136 which at the time was a significant amount of money.
It had tiller steering, a nod to the firm’s marine origins. It also had foot-and-hand-operated brakes and was based on a wood-and-metal monocoque chassis, with coil-sprung axles located to the frame by tie rods.
The UK love the Vauxhall Corsa and in 2017 with all of the fabulous features and the stylish modern look, it’s easy to see why. A huge range of driver assist technology makes the Corsa a joy to drive. Unlike the 6HP design which I’m certain wouldn’t pass today’s safety requirements for UK vehicles. 4G Wi-Fi inside the car feels futuristic now, let alone back in 1903. New high power but fuel efficient three-cylinder 1.0 turbo engines. Two ecoFLEX versions, the 1.0 turbo with 66 kW (90 hp) and the 1.3 CDTI with 70 kW (95 hp) maximise economy.
What a fascinating journey back into the history of the UK’s most popular car brands and the cars that started it all. When looking at them side-by-side it’s impressive to see how far the motoring industry has come in a relatively short space of time. From basic metal cans on wheels to get from A to B, through to all singing and dancing homes away from home. The cars of 2017 are a lap of luxury, and that’s just the budget vehicles.