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History of the Automobile- 1920-present The United States became the forerunner in the automobile industry early and the automobile quickly found a place in almost every American home In the decades after World War I American demands on automobiles increased and the increased demands imbued many changes in the form and function of cars The United States was host to countless developments for the car and became a large influence in the future of the automobile and its industry Pre-World War I automobiles were far from refined machines Manufacturers traveled a long way after the war to perfect their cars Perhaps the biggest improvement in car technology in this time period was the development of faster engines mainly due to two factors New steel alloys and aluminum replaced cast-iron in the making of engines that were much lighter These new aluminum pistons could move twice as fast as the old cast-iron ones The second contributing factor for faster engines was the replacement of the side valves in the cylinders with valves operated by a camshaft This allowed the gasoline and air mixture to be sucked more quickly into the cylinder resulting in a better engine Evans 24 The debut of the modern V8 engine was one significant engineering development of the 1940s Companies had built V8s for years Cadillac since 1915 and Ford since 1932 But these were relatively heavy long-stroke low-compression engines known for smoothness rather than performance Ludvigsen and Wise 124 With the new lighter technology manufactures produced a new breed In 1949 Cadillac and Oldsmobile pioneered this new generation of V8s Their product was the forebear of the engines powering most large American cars up through the fifties and even until today Americas efficient powerful light V8 gained fame around the worldwide for its performance and reliability Cars 40s 12 Another extremely important engineering development was the perfection of the automatic transmission Oldsmobile part of General Motors had offered a semi-automatic transmission
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