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All Tests

 Development 1

You can twist and turn it however you want, a car is always first perceived through the body. That may also be the reason why so many are sold under the sheet metal with very identical technology these days. At most you press your nose flat against the side window, in order to to catch a glimpse of the dashboard. The wheels are also less of interest in terms of their contact with the road, but more in the design of the rims.

It is no coincidence that up to 75 percent of the production comes from suppliers, but the body is usually made by the manufacturer. And since the chassis and superstructure have merged into a self-supporting unit, everything else is attached to this in the course of completion. The manufacturer often only built the frame, undercarriage and engine. It was not uncommon that one had to spend as much on the bodywork once again.

When you think of four-cylinder engines, which were available already a hundred years ago with overhead camshafts, the changes in body construction during this time are significantly greater, even if we leave out the initial era of coaches. What has happened since the nineties of the last century is a minor sensation. Even if you consider that Daimler, for example, used wood in car body construction until the Second World War.

No, we're not starting again with the invention of the wheel, probably 5,000 years ago. But there is one historical aspect of this part that must astonish. Until the 19th century, with very few exceptions, wheels were pulled. Only then did they begin to drive a vehicle themselves, first with steam power, then with electricity and finally with an internal combustion engine.

Speed wasn't an issue either. Estimate for yourself how fast a six-horse carriage, for example, could be, how long the horses could hold out and who could afford it. So why should you pay attention to something like aerodynamics in a carriage? Had it continued like this, nobody would have had to invent elements of passive safety. You can still travel by train today without a seat belt and maybe even take it off someday if everyone drives autonomously.

It is remarkable how, in the early days of the automobile, the engine was in the foreground and how much it has lost interest today, presupposed full compliance with emissions regulations. It is said that there have been Americans for a long time who don't know how many cylinders they have under the hood. Which hood, you can probably tell by the sound. And yet they are very practical, buy big pickups that are up to any transport task.

The French deserve our thanks for making the car affordable for normal, albeit reasonably well-heeled citizens, away from the so-called gentleman drivers. Presumably Levasseur and not Maybach was the reason for the generally carried out relocation of the engine to the front. After all, Maybach's changes (picture above), albeit to expensive (racing) cars, had persuaded a certain Consul Jellinek to use the new name 'Mercedes' for these changes. After all, Maybach's modifications (picture above), albeit to expensive (racing) cars, had persuaded a certain Consul Jellinek to demarcate these changes with the new name 'Mercedes'.

In addition, there was a certain lowering, which, with the front and rear wheels of the same size and significantly smaller overall than carriages, created even more visual changes. Renault was not the only manufacturer to relocate the radiator behind the engine at the front (picture above), but it is used there in almost all model series. The others used the front and especially the radiator as a status symbol. Initially a rather unimportant part in terms of bodywork, the thermometer on the radiator has evolved e.g. to the work of art Emily.

The Michelin company was the first to intervene decisively in the technology of the wheels, brought the pneumatic tire and played an important role again much later with its further development to the steel belt tire. And if you think there were only open cars, the picture below of a Panhard & Levassor Coupé Chauffeur Type U1 from 1906 prove you wrong.

However, closed automobiles were still an exception for a long time. The reason was, for example, the costs. At that time, a vehicle did not need to be reinforced if the roof was removed or not even provided for. The stability was based on a kind of ladder frame and not on a self-supporting body. One had other problems, besides the one already mentioned with the cooling, e.g. that of a lower center of gravity as possible.

Wilhelm Maybach's reaction to a quite bad accident at the Nice - La Turbie 1900 hill climb was to lengthen the wheelbase of the Daimler Phönix and lower the drive between the two side members of the chassis. From then on, the engine no longer had a subframe, but was attached directly to the main frame made of pressed sheet steel. Inclined steering column, steering gear moved further back and steering axles moved further into the wheels, do the rest.

Certainly, the first Mercedes designed in this way were racing cars and the main purpose of the changes was to increase engine performance. But here one could confidently assume that improvements would also benefit the series, which is only true to a very limited extent these days.

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