Miracles of clockwork genius. As Roald Dahl said in Danny the Champion of the World, "the notion that you can take a thousand little pieces of metal, wood, plastic and rubber, feed them gasoline, oil and water and then have them run is sheer magic." That was badly paraphrased.

There are those of us who love their cars. At least some of them. Some cars were more than turned out on an assembly line; they were built by those that loved them, and it shows.

Also, sorry Webby, street legal automobiles now have broken the 1,000 horsepower mark.

Automobiles, a term under which are comprised horseless carriages, motor vans, motor omnibus, and all the motor traction vehicles adapted for use on ordinary roads having no rails. Electricity, steam, and gasoline or naptha are the three main sources of power that do the bidding of the man behind the lever. Other sources of power, such as compressed air, liquid air, carbonic acid gas and alcohol, have been experimented with; but are regarded as impracticable by experts. The modern automobile, which was led up to by the bicycle with its rubber tires, found its first great development in France, encouraged by the perfection of highways in that country. The U.S. Government census report for the year 1909 gives the automobile output for the year as $249,202,000; number of persons employed, 75,721; number of cars manufactured, 119,000. In 1911 the production in the United States was 209,957 automobiles, and manufacturers say the total number will reach over 247,000 in 1912, with a gross valuation of about $500,000,000. In addition to the home production, large quantities of vehicles are imported from Europe. The accessory side of automobiling shows nearly 1,000 manufacturers, with over $200,000,000 capitalization, exclusive of the rubber companies. Since the year 1910 great progress has been made in the development of the commercial automobile for light delivery and heavy trucking purposes.


Entry from Everybody's Cyclopedia, 1912.

Au`to*mo"bile (?), n. [F.]

An automobile vehicle or mechanism; esp., a self-propelled vehicle suitable for use on a street or roadway. Automobiles are usually propelled by internal combustion engines (using volatile inflammable liquids, as gasoline or petrol, alcohol, naphtha, etc.), steam engines, or electric motors. The power of the driving motor varies from about 4 to 50 H. P. for ordinary vehicles, ranging from the run- about to the touring car, up to as high as 200 H. P. for specially built racing cars. Automobiles are also commonly, and generally in British usage, called motor cars.

 

© Webster 1913.

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