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Automotive Industry: A Research Guide

Automotive History

Early Ford Automobile. 1908. Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division.

In the 1800s, Gottlieb Daimler, Karl Benz, Nicolaus Otto, and Emile Levassor significantly contributed to the automobile's technological advancement. Benz is credited with building the first gas-powered car with an internal combustion engine in 1885, marking a historic milestone in the automotive industry.1

Henry Ford established the Ford Motor Company, an American car manufacturer that transformed the industry with mass production methods. These methods were later adopted by other major car companies such as GM and Chrysler. As the automobile industry expanded, several supply chains were created to sustain vehicle production and progress.

The automotive industry played a vital role in the military by producing wartime vehicles and other products essential to the war. After World War II, the automobile industry grew rapidly in global regions such as Europe and Japan. By 1980, with intensive marketing strategies, newly developed roads, and highways, automakers had become a global enterprise.

Although the automobile industry has changed over centuries, the industry continues to thrive and grow with constant product innovations, new engineering designs, and technology. With now fully electric vehicles, cars are smaller, less polluting, and more computer-aided.

On this page, you will find information about books written on automotive history, historical magazines, and journals, along with websites showing the car industry's evolution. The company research page contains information and resources on specific car companies.

Resources

The following titles link to fuller bibliographic information in the Library of Congress Online Catalog. Links to additional online content are included when available.

The following alphabetical list of journal titles link to fuller bibliographic information in the Library of Congress Online Catalog. Links to additional online content are included when available. For a list of current automotive industry news, see the Industry News and Analysis page of this guide.

The links below go to websites related to automotive history.

Notes

  1. For more information on early car inventors, see "Who Invented the Automobile?" Everyday Mysteries, Library of Congress (accessed July 19, 2023). Back to text