The second part of our car innovations feature, detailing the history of cruise control, the hybrid car, the convertible model, turbo charge... and even the humble windscreen wiper!

6. Cruise control

A centrifugal governing speed control has been used in automobiles as early as the 1910s, with James Watt and Matthew Boulton's Peerless technology, originally designed in for use in locomotives in 1788. The modern concept of speed control was designed by the blind inventor Ralph Teetor in 1945, who was frustrated with his car driver’s tendency to speed up and slow down as he talked. The first car to use Teetor’s system was the 1958 Chrysler Imperial.

7. The Hybrid

With an internal combustion engine and batteries for power, the plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) can be re-charged by connecting to an electrical source. In theory, the conversion from a traditional automobile to a PHEV would contribute considerably to a greener environment, lessening our dependence on petroleum and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Although no PHEVs are yet in production, Toyota, General Motors and Ford have all announced their intention to introduce the PHEV automobile.

8. The Convertible

The convertible was in fact the original model for automobiles by default, until in 1910, Cadillac invented the first closed-body car. The popularity of the convertible soared in the 1950s and 60s, then all but disappeared in the US due to the threat of new regulations concerning rollover safety requirements. Although production continued in other parts of the world – most notably in Europe - the resurgence of popularity in the US can be attributed to the production of cars such as the Chrysler LeBaron and Saab 900 in the 1980s.

9. Turbo charger

In 1905, the Swiss engineer Alfred Buchi applied for a patent to his internal combustion turbocharger. The system was initially applied to aircraft engines, and was first used in an automobile in 1952 by Fred Agabashian in the Indianapolis 500, giving him pole position and the race lead for 100 miles. Until the 70s the turbocharger was used mainly for sports cars, until 1976 when Saab developed a turbo engine with the reliability and durability required for everyday use.

10. Windscreen Wipers

The method of moving two vertical brushes up and down on a glass windshield was invented by J H Apjohn in 1903, while the patent for the windshield wiper swinging arm was applied for in 1905 by Mary Anderson. These first windscreen wiper designs are also accredited to the world famous-concert pianist, Jozef Hofmann. The first intermittent wipers were introduced in 1969, and in the late 20th Century rain-sensing windshield wipers appeared on various models, becoming standard on all Cadillacs from early 2006.


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