The history of cars

The very first forerunner of the cars were probably the sailboats, which in the 18th century in Europe could already reach a very decent speed under favourable conditions. There are even sources that indicate that under the Egyptian pharaoh Amenemhat III, in the second millennium B.C., sailing vans already existed.

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Before the use of the modern internal combustion engine, steam engines were used. One of the most famous designers of the steam car is Nicolas Joseph Cugnot (1725-1804). This officer used his steam car for assignments within the army. Gurney also designed a steam car in 1832 for the connection between Gloucester and Cheltenham in England. The usual speed at that time was about 25 kilometres per hour. A similar development could be seen in the Netherlands, where Sibrandus Stratingh from Groningen did a (successful) experiment with a steam car in 1834. Until the invention of the combustion engine, the steam car developed gradually, but it could not compete with the combustion engine. The advantages of this engine were mainly a much lower weight and less fuel consumption for more power. This made the advance of this type of engine unstoppable.
François Isaac de Rivaz, a Swiss inventor, designed the first combustion engine using hydrogen gas as fuel in 1806. In 1862, the Belgian Etienne Lenoir built his first car, the hippomobile, with a hydrogen combustion engine. It was only when the German Nikolaus Otto made improvements in 1878 that the Lenoir gas engine became a commercial success. Further major modifications were made by his compatriot Gottlieb Daimler with his patent on the first successful high-speed combustion engine (1885). The biggest improvements to the heavy oil engine were made by Rudolf Diesel, also from Germany, who received his first patents in 1892. By the end of the 19th century, the internal combustion engine was the main competitor of the steam engine in industry and transport.

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In 1885 Carl Benz built the (three-wheel) car equipped with a petrol engine. This vehicle was the start of the development and breakthrough of this type of internal combustion engine.

The first car built in Belgium was the Vincke and the first car built in the Netherlands was the Eysink. It is not known which brand of car was the first passenger car in the Netherlands, but it is known that the industrialist Jos Bogaers had bought the car and would have driven it on 17 December 1895.
Types of cars

From top to bottom: Sedan, station wagon, Hatchback
There are different types of cars. Apart from trucks, vans, campers and buses, there are differences in the passenger cars.

Sedan; is a body shape with two or four doors and a boot lid where the boot or trunk cannot usually be reached via the driver’s area. On the outside it can be recognised by 3 “compartments”, on the front low where the engine is located, in the middle high where the passengers are seated, on the back low where the trunk is (usually) located.

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Hatchback: a car in which the driver’s compartment can be reached via the boot/trunk. The boot is therefore not a separately closed boot. Also referred to as three- or five-door. Recognizable by 2 “compartments”, 1 for the engine and a higher one for the passengers.
Station wagon; a car that is often as long as the sedan version in terms of size and an extended hatchback in terms of shape.
Terrain car; a car that is suitable for off-road driving by means of four-wheel drive, limited slip differential as well as high and low gearing.
SUV; also known as sports utility vehicle: an off-road vehicle in which driving characteristics and comfort have been optimised for use on the asphalt.
MPV; also called Multi-Purpose Vehicle: a car suitable for several people and purposes. Luggage is placed in the occupant compartment.

Coupé; a (usually sedan-based sporty) version of a car, with a roofline that starts to descend towards the trunk of the car behind the front seats.
Cabriolet; a car of which the roof can be removed to create an open car. It must be a cloth roof, because nowadays there are also many models with a steel folding roof and that is a coupé-cabriolet (often called CC, like the 207CC), actually a kind of crossover.
Sports car; a mostly race car based street car with a lot of power.

Cross-over; that’s how versions that can’t really be categorized are called, so they’re a bit of different models, for example the Nissan Qashqai (MPV and SUV intersection). Actually, the MPV is also a crossover between estate car and SUV, but this became such a popular model that it got its own name. Nowadays more and more mixed styles are used, like SSUV (Super Sports Utility Vehicle), MAV (Multi Activity Vehicle) or CUV (Crossover Utility Vehicle). Often this is marketing jargon.