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Top 10 – Roosters the front! These pioneering cars were the first…

Driving is so easy, comfortable and safe these days. Computers bigger than those in the Apollo 11 moon rocket switch for you, keep their distance from vehicles in front, take the wheel off your hands, and see what’s in the blind spot. Who can you thank for that? These ten pioneers, who were the first to come up with important inventions.

ABS: Jensen FF (1966)

The rare Jensen FF – only 310 were built – resembles the much more famous Jensen Interceptor, but is a lot longer and completely different under the skin. It was not only the first non-terrain vehicle with four-wheel drive, but also the first car with ABS (anti-lock braking system). The mechanical Dunlop Maxaret system was developed for aviation and was used, among other things, on the Dutch Fokker F-27 Friendship, with which KLM also flew.

Automatic transmission – Oldsmobile (1939)

The American brand Oldsmobile no longer exists since 2004. Parent company General Motors pulled the plug due to disappointing sales. Oldsmobile was one of the oldest car manufacturers in the world, along with Mercedes and Peugeot. In 1939 Oldsmobile was the first division of GM to use the renowned Hydramatic transmission, which was also used in the models of Cadillac, Pontiac and even Rolls-Royce and Bentley.

Cup Holders – Plymouth Voyager (1983)

Is it any wonder that the Americans invented the cup holders? No. In the land of drive-throughs – in Las Vegas you can even get married from your car – you have to be able to store those huge cups of Coca Cola from McDonalds somewhere, of course. Chrysler designers came up with something for it in the early eighties: two simple round ‘holes’ in the center console of the Dodge Caravan and Plymouth Voyager. In Europe we know those models as Chrysler Voyager.

Continuously variable transmission – Daf 600 (1958)

If you drive a (plug-in) hybrid, your car is probably equipped with a continuously variable transmission. You can hear this during acceleration, if the engine speed does not increase proportionally with the acceleration, but is kept at the same (optimal) level by the CVT. The inventor of the system is Hub van Doorne, who used his Variomatic in 1958 in his very first passenger car, the Daf 600.

Digital Instrument Panel – Aston Martin Lagonda (1976)

We are not always pleased with the ease of use of digital dashboards. Due to the lack of physical buttons, you sometimes have to take your attention away from the road for too long. But in the 1970s, Aston Martin Lagonda buyers had very different problems. The dashboard in the sharply-cut luxury sedan was revolutionary, but more often than not it didn’t work. The Lagonda Series III moved from LED instruments to TV screens in 1986. But they turned out to be even less reliable.

GPS Navigation System – Mazda Eunos Cosmo (1990)

Who can read maps these days? Mothers of 60 years or older! Because they used to sit panicked with a road map on their lap, while their husbands tried to survive the Paris Périphérique, sweating dangerously. It was a drama, every year. But this Mazda unknown in Europe put an end to that. The Eunos Cosmo – a beautiful luxury coupé with a rotary engine – was the first car in the world to have satellite navigation. Thank you!

Parking sensors – Toyota Corona (1982)

No, not Toyota Corolla, but Toyota Corona. The model no longer exists since 2001, but you probably know it when we mention the European names: Carina and Avensis. In the early eighties, the colorless sedan had a real world first. Toyota equipped the Corona with ultrasonic parking sensors, which measure the distance to an object with short sound pulses. Back Sonar, the Japanese manufacturer called the revolutionary system.

Four-wheel steering – Nissan Skyline (1985)

More and more cars have it: four-wheel steering. By having the rear wheels counter-steer at low speed, you can reduce the turning circle. On the highway, they steer with the front wheels, which provides greater stability. Not only sports cars are equipped with it, also ordinary models, such as the newly introduced new Mercedes C-class. The first was the Nissan Skyline R31 with HICAS (High Capacity Actively Controlled Steering).

Power steering – Chrysler Imperial (1950)

People over 40 have probably learned it: you have to let a car without power steering roll slightly, then steering is easier. The fact that a car steers heavily was already a problem in the early years, so the first power steering was presented as early as 1876. The first really useful system came in the 1920s, but was deemed too expensive by developer General Motors. So Chrysler ran off with the expired patent after World War II.

Full LED lighting – Audi R8 V10 (2009)

When it comes to lighting, we owe a lot to Audi. Or due, depending on how you look at it. The German manufacturer was the first to introduce LED daytime running lights (Audi A8 W12, 2004) and those affected dynamic LED turn signals (Audi R8, 2012). Lexus had the scoop in 2006 with LED headlights, although the LS 600h used traditional ‘pears’ for the high beam and the clignoteurs. The first ‘full-led’ car was the Audi R8 V10 three years later.

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