The development of the internal combustion engine would have had a great impact on our ancestors. It would have changed every aspect of their lives but how. It’s had an impact on my life. I used to love working on old cars with my family. We had a Morris Traveller with both wet and dry rot, an Austin A40 that a hedgehog lived in and we rebuilt a mini from a virtual right of.
Well let’s start with the history of vehicles. The first form of transport was the horse and they have been domesticated for over 6000 years. They were teamed up with carts in prehistoric times and so the horse and cart was invented. But when was what we would call a motor vehicle developed.
Well Leonard Da Vinic was known to have drawn what we would recognise as a car in the late 15th/ early 16th century. So that’s in the reign of King Henry VII. The first motorised carriage as they were called was developed in France in 1769 by Nicolas – Joseph Cugnot. This was powered by steam and he developed it to move heavy military equipment.
This eventually developed into the steam car which usually only carried 2 people.
Next came the petrol powered car developed in the 1880’s in Germany by Karl Benz. These were the preserve of the wealth as they were very expansive so if your ancestors had one then they were doing really well for themselves. The first mass produced car was the Model T Ford developed by Henry Ford in the USA. He opened his first mass production line in 1913.
So how much did a car cost to buy?
Well in 1913 in the USA a Model T cost about $850 so about £16,093 today.
In 1931 a Morris Minor would have cost £100.
In the 1950’s a Ford Anglia cost £310.
In 1959 a new Mini cost £497
In the 1960’s a Lotus Cortina was £1,100 and a Hilman Imp was £508.
In the 1970’s an E-Type Jaguar was £3,139 and a Ford Capri was £4035.
In the 1980’s the Ford Escort RS was £6,700 and the Rover 800 was £19,944.
All the above prices are from https://www.motoringresearch.com/car-news/cost-car-year-born/ . So the better off your ancestor was the better the car they could afford.
This is believed to be the first member of my family to be pictured with a car which from the number plate can be dated around the 1930’s.
So how did the car change our ancestor’s lives? Well if you think about it before the development of them the only way to move around was horse and cart and if you didn’t have access to one it was on foot. You could use the train, but it had to pass near where you lived and it may not have gone where you wanted to. The car meant you could go directly from A to B.
Now obviously your ancestor would have had to have been able to afford to buy a car, and from the prices above they would have had to have been well paid to be able to afford them. But if they could buy one just think how much freedom they would have had. You could have gone literally anywhere. Places you couldn’t go before as although they were local they were too far to walk to could now be explored. Also new holiday destinations. No more going on the Train to Scarborough or Blackpool with everyone else as that’s where the train or coach went. No now you could go to the towns and villages further afield where not many people went, so the holiday was more exclusive.
The car also meant that as families moved further apart from each other they could visit more easily. My Grandparents moved north away from their families but could all pile into the car to drive south to visit them.
The vehicle also meant new experiences. Foods from further away could be enjoyed more easily as they could be moved around the country by train and vehicle. So if you wanted a Devon delicacy but lived in North Yorkshire you had more chance of being able to buy it locally.
So many people think the car is bad but just think how much of an impact they had on our ancestors lives. They opened up new avenues for them. But please remember those like my Great, Great Grandad William who was a farrier and saddle maker. It spelled an end to their lively hood as more cars, less horse shoes. Maybe they just branched out into tyres instead. In the case of William he died before cars took over.
Hello and thank you for taking the time to read my ramblings on genealogy and history in general. I hope you find it informative and hopefully funny!