Can you quote car facts off the top of your head? Are you like a giant, walking automotive encyclopedia? Do people ask you about when things happened, or what car companies have done different things in the past? Not everyone has a steel-trap memory, so if you do, you're one of the lucky few.
The automotive industry has been around since the 1800s, so the history is long and rich. Consider that cars have shaped everything from how our cities have been designed to how we shop for groceries. The automobile has impacted society in so many ways, and society has impacted the design of cars.
Automakers have come and gone, as have many different models. Technological breakthroughs, artistic designs, fads, and so many other changes have also risen and fallen. Even today, a whole range of forces from the push for self-driving cars to electrification are either going to be remembered as momentous impacts, or footnotes in automotive history.
Just how much do you know about cars past and present? Test your knowledge by taking this quiz right now!
In the original series, K.I.T.T. was the Knight Industries Two Thousand, a highly modified and autonomous Trans Am with a hyper-intelligent and sassy AI onboard. David Hasselhoff's character, Michael, acted as the "driver" and partner for the car.
During WWII, the American military contracted with Willys Overland and Ford to have the Jeep built. It was an ultra-mobile, go-anywhere vehicle the Germans and Italians both unsuccessfully tried to replicate.
Many people think the Ford Mustang was the first pony car. After all, it does have a horse badge, but the Plymouth Barracuda beat it to market by a mere 16 days, technically making it the first pony car offered to the public.
Nissan launched the Infiniti brand in 1989, focusing on the North American market. Today, Infiniti has dealers in dozens of countries around the world, with its global offices in Hong Kong.
DeLorean was innovative about building cars, not only using stainless steel body panels, but also fiberglass and a steel chassis. Unfortunately, despite what you saw in "Back to the Future," the DMC-12 was anything but fast, even though it looks cool.
The Chevy bowtie badge was inspired by a newspaper ad from long ago, although many people have been told it was inspired by a wallpaper pattern used in a hotel in France. It's one of the most recognizable symbols in the auto industry today.
No other car before or since has achieved one million sales in a single year, making this record set by the Impala that much more impressive.
America's sports car hit the automotive scene in 1953, first as a concept also called the EX-122. For the first production year, only 300 cars were made at the Flint factory. Each one featured the Polo White/Sportsman Red exterior and interior color scheme.
Adolf Hitler took credit for creating "the people's car," but history has credited Ferdinand Porsche with its final design. Still, some people argue that rear-engine- air-cooled cars with a similar overall look had existed for some time before, meaning Porsche just put a new spin on an old idea.
When Lexus started out, it had only two cars: the LS 400 and ES 250. The level of quality and reliability of these models quickly earned the brand a reputation, and helped it grow to its current and much wider product lineup.
Volkswagen Group is one of the largest automotive companies in the world, with its subsidiaries, including SEAT, Skoda, Bentley, and Ducati. It has a presence all around the world, meaning its products have a tremendous impact on the industry.
Cadillac used to have its headquarters in Michigan, along with the rest of GM. The move to SoHo in New York City was a way to create a different flavor for the brand, which used to be considered the gold standard in luxury cars.
In 1985, Mercedes-Benz offered factory-installed CD players for certain models, beating other automakers to the punch. In 1984, Sony debuted an aftermarket in-dash CD player, touching off the audio revolution.
Nils Bohlin worked as an engineer for Volvo, and he had the idea for a three-point seat belt back in 1959. Rather than make a fortune off the invention, Volvo decided to share the patent with the entire industry, saving countless lives.
Many people lovingly refer to Ford this way, with the reference pretty obvious. The Ford logo is one of the most recognized among consumers, something others will often envy.
In 1948, Ferdinand Porsche built a prototype car that was the first made under the Porsche banner, called No. 1. Of course, the man had been building cars since 1900, starting with an electric car and after that many others.
Most people think that Chrysler invented the Hemi engine, but it only popularized it with the help of Tom Hoover. The engines got their name for the hemispherical shape of the combustion chamber, a design that allows the engines to produce more power.
Too often, Henry Ford is given credit for making the first mass-produced vehicle, when that credit goes to Oldsmobile. In 1904, the company started whipping out Curved Dash cars, which were used by the U.S. Postal Service and many others.
The Lincoln Highway was constructed in 1913, back when cars weren't nearly as common as today. It was one of the first transcontinental highways in the United States. At first, it went through 13 states, but later increased to 14.
Tesla's headquarters is based in Palo Alto, which is part of the Bay Area. It also has a large facility in nearby Fremont, as well as a Gigafactory located in Nevada. The company is working on spreading operations in Europe and Asia as well.
Robert Ballard, an employee of GM, came up with the idea for heated car seats in 1951. He filed a patent on the idea in 1955, beating out the claim Saab has made that it invented seat heaters in 1972.
Chrysler first used the term MOPAR in the 1920s, but it didn't become a brand until 1937. Today it's the service, parts, and customer care division inside FCA.
Most automotive experts agree that the 1949 Oldsmobile Rocket 88 was the first muscle car. It paired a high-compression V-8 engine with a lightweight body that had been designed for V-6s.
When the United States was getting ready for D-Day, and after that, it shipped quite a few Jeeps to England and then on to mainland Europe. After the war, the British were fascinated with the purpose-built vehicle, so they decided to create something similar.
Since 1982, Honda has been making Accords at a factory in Marysville, Ohio. Many Americans didn't know about the production facility for some time. Other Japanese automakers started making some cars in North America as a way to reduce costs.
During World War II, American bombers had to make quick and dangerous runs from England over Europe to hit German targets. To help them outrun enemy fighters, the bombers would fog nitrous oxide into the engines, something the veterans did with their cars after the war.
Porsche was an old holdout on air cooling, but finally with the 996's launch in 1998, it converted the iconic 911 to water cooled. Some Porsche fans still consider everything from the 996 on to be "fake" Porsches.
The former president of Nissan had seen the Broadway Musical, "My Fair Lady," and thought it was a beautiful production. He envisioned a GT that would be as graceful, and thus the Fair Lady name was created.
This is a controversial subject, but most historians agree that Benz was the inventor of the automobile in 1885. Still, electric carriages and steam-propelled tractors were around first, although they were nothing like the automobile we know today.
Many people think that Morgan chassis are made of ash, but that's a type of urban legend. Instead, most Morgans have a frame made of the wood, which is one of many components that give the cars a highly retro feel.
In 1933, Park-In Theaters opened in Camden, New Jersey. The term "drive-in theater" didn't come into popularity until later, as such car-friendly establishments popped up all over the United States.
In 1930, William Lear and Joseph Galvin teamed up to invent the Motorola, a name they came up with as the motorized version of the Victrola. They demonstrated a prototype in a Studebaker, and the idea caught on quickly.
The United States founded Route 66 in 1926 as a road that ran from Chicago all the way to Santa Monica, California. It passed through several states and was almost 2,500 miles long.
With a burnout, the tires heat up considerably, making the rubber stickier. That allows the car to launch a little faster, so the racer can shave precious time off his run, and hopefully, beat his opponent.
Preston Tucker created a car named after him, which boasted safety innovations like a third headlight that turned with the steering wheel, a padded dashboard, and a windshield that popped out in a crash. Unfortunately, his company folded under financial pressure.