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timeline

1885: Karl Benz (1844-1929) built a motorised tricycle driven by an oil-spirit internal combustion engine in 1885. This is widely held to be the first successful motor vehicle.
1885: Gottlieb Daimler (1834-1900) built a motorised bicycle in 1885 and a 4-wheel motor carriage in 1886.
1898: Latil (France) made front wheel drive units and then 4x4.
1898: Tatra started manufacturing.
1899: August Horch began a car company carrying his own surname in 1899; it evolved into Auto-Union and eventually Audi.
1900: Ferdinand Porsche's La Toujours Contente had battery-power with four electric motors, one at each wheel. (He later patented the Mixte transmission in which a petrol engine drove a dynamo and electric motors drove the wheels. It was too expensive for the day.)
1900: Puch's first car.
1901: Volume imports of cars began into Australia starting with De Dion Boutons.
1902: 'Mercedes' registered as a trademark. March 1, 1902, the first 40hp Mercedes Simplex ever built was supplied to Emil Jellinek in Nice. It was named after Jellinek's daughter.
1902: Spyker featured a 6-cylinder engine and four wheel drive!
1902: Minerva started making cars.
1903: Ford.
1904: Rover 8hp.
1906: Societa Italinana Automobili Darracq (SIAD) founded; it later became Alfa Romeo (about 1921).
1907: Peking to Paris car race was won by an Itala.
1907: Felix and Norman Caldwell of South Australia applied for a patent for four wheel drive with four wheel steering; they went on to build Caldwell Vale 4x4 trucks with Henry Vale. - L. A11ison
1908: Model-T production began.
1909: Bugatti built his first car.
1911: FWD sold its first 4x4.
1913: Jeffrey Quad 4x4 truck went into production.
1914: The Society Anonima Officine Alfieri Maserati, Bologna, was created by the Maserati brothers.
1915: Big Lizzie road train (.au).
1917: First Oshkosh four wheel drive truck.
1919: Bentley founded.
1921: DKW - scooters first.
1922: Citroen half-tracks crossed the Sahara, leaving from Touggourt in Algeria.
1922: Baby Austin 7.
1924: December 28: Citroen half-tracks left to traverse Africa.
1924: The first MG car was built - on a modified Morris Oxford chassis.
1927: Model-T production ended; 15 million Model Ts had been built from 1908 to 1927.
1929: AEC started to build AWD trucks in conjunction with FWD (UK).
1931: Bentley taken over by Rolls Royce.
1931-1932: Citroen-Haardt expedition, using Citroen half-tracks, followed part of Marco-Polo's route from Beirut to Beijing.
1932: Audi became part of Auto-Union, with DKW, Horch and Wanderer.
1932: Miller 4x4 racing cars at Indianapolis.
1934: AEC road train (one of three built) was brought to Australia. It consisted of an 8x8 prime-mover and two 8-wheel self-tracking trailers. - L. A11ison
1934: Dodge started building 4WD trucks (-George Miles).
1934: Prototype PX-33 four wheel drive car built for the Japanese government; the car did not go into production (Mitsubishi). Thanks to Balazs Toth.
1937: Svenska Aeroplan Aktiebolaget, aircraft factory founded, later became Saab.
1938: GAZ 61 - Russian 4x4.
1940: Jeep specification issued. 1940-1941: Bantam built 2700 light 4x4s, early "Jeeps".
1941-1945: Ford and Willys-Overland built 700,000 General Purpose vehicles for WWII. GP became Jeep.
1946, October 10: Unimog introduced (- H. J. Feil).
1948: Series-1 Land-Rover released.
1948: Porsche's first car had a 1086cc 30kW VW engine.
1948: Jaguar XK120 launched.
1948: Holden 48-215.
1948: Ford released the 1st of the F-Series vehicles.
1950: The Ford GPA, or amphibious Jeep, `Half Safe' was "driven" across the Atlantic ocean by Ben and Elinore Carlin. It's true!
1950: VW Transporter lay down the foundations of the hippy era.
1951: First Toyota Landcruiser was built under the `BJ Jeep' name. The LandCruiser name came in 1954.
1952: Suzuki's first motorcycle.
1952 March 12: Launch of the racing sports car version of the Mercedes Benz 300SL (of the gullwing doors).
1953: The first Redex Reliability Trial was held. Competitors had two weeks to cover 11,000km taking them around Australia. Ken Tubman and John Marshall won in a Peugeot 203.
1954-1956: Amphibious Jeep `La Tortuga' "drove" from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego.
1955-1956: London to Singapore Overland (except for Channel!) 2ŚLand-Rovers.
1955: Suzuki's first car.
1955: The wonderful Goggomobil.
1958: First Toyota LandCruisers imported into Australia.
1959: BMC Mini went on sale.
1959: Haflinger by Steyr-Daimler-Puch.
1960: A Jeep and a Land-Rover traversed the Darien Gap.
1960: Ford Falcon XK.
1961: Jaguar E-type unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show.
1961: Stirling Moss drove a Ferguson Project 99 (P99) with the Ferguson 4WD system to victory in the Oulton Park Gold-Cup race.
1964, 17 July: Donald Campbell in Bluebird (4WD) raised the land speed record to 403mph, in Australia.
1964: Porsche 911; it went on to become a classic.
1964: Mini Moke went on sale.
1965: VW bought Audi.
1966: Jensen FF road car had Formula Ferguson 4WD and Dunlop Maxaret anti-lock brakes (ABS).
1969: Ferrari joined the Fiat group.
1970: Range Rover released - luxury full-time 4WD.
1971: Lunar rover "cars" on the moon.
1971: Ford Falcon XY ute 4WD (.au).
1971-1972: British Trans-Americas Range Rover expedition.
1974: Subaru Leone 4x4 car.
1979: AMC produced the Eagle 4x4 car.
1981: Specification for the High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV) was issued; later known as the Humvee or Hummer.
1981: Audi revolutionized rallying with the Quattro 4WD rally car.
1981: Porsche showed the Porsche 911 AWD concept car at the Frankfurt Motor Show.
1983: Land-Rover 110, coil-sprung, full-time 4WD.
1984: A Porsche 911 AWD won the Paris Dakar rally.
1986: Porsche 959 AWDs finished 1, 2 and 6 in the Paris Dakar rally.
1992: McLaren F1 rewrote the super-car rule book.
1993: Maserati was bought by Fiat from de Tomaso.
1996: Lotus was taken over by Proton.
1996: New Jeep Wrangler got coil springs.
1997: Thrust SSC broke the sound barrier and raised the World Land Speed Record to 1221kph (763mph, Mach 1.02).
1998: Bentley bought by VW. Is nothing sacred? BMW pulled a swifty and bought the Rolls Royce name.
1998: Bugatti name bought by VW.
1998: Chrysler and Mercedes-Benz merged to form DaimlerChrysler.
1999: Volvo cars sold to Ford.
2000: Ford bought LandRover and `Phoenix' took over MG-Rover from BMW.
2001: BMW put the retro' `new Mini' on sale in Europe (.au in 2002).
2001: July: Rolls-Royce and Bentley Motor Cars announced details of the last Rolls-Royce Silver Seraph model to commemorate 97 years of Rolls-Royce cars; production ends with 2001. VW continued to build Bentleys but future Rolls Royces were to be built at BMW's new factory.
2002: Rolls-Royce became pure BMW, and Bentley pure Volkswagen.