Automobiles in the Post War Era

Automobiles in the Post War Era




After the World War II the world evolved and changed for the better in all the fields. All production and inventions were aimed at making life comfortable and convenient. The automobile designs also underwent a total change, which was revolutionary, when the cars now adopted the ponton style.

Focus on Safety Designs and Fuel Injection

The earlier designs of vehicles had fully articulated fenders and distinct running boards. In ponton styling the body work enclosed the full width and the length of the car without interruptions. The overall trend is also referred to as envelope styling.

The production and design of automobiles ultimately emerged from the shadow of war and military orientation in the year 1949. That year, the United States introduced the high compression V 8 engines and the modern bodies of cars through their Cadillac and General Motor brands. The Ford Consul, the Morris Minor, Rover P4, Enzo Ferrari and the V 6 powered Aurelia were all introduced, to literally wake up the automobile market across the United States and Europe.

In 1950s the speeds of the cars increased with rise in engine power, as the cars became more artful and integrated and they spread throughout the world. Japan went on wheels for the first time with the small Kei car.  Alec Issigonis’ Mini and Fiat’s 500 became very popular in the diminutive car category in Europe.  Germany’s Volkswagen Beetle survived Hitler and become popular again. Ultra luxury cars were the Cadillac Eldorado Brougham and the Ferrari Americas in the America and Europe respectively.

In 1960s, heavy competition worldwide changed the market scene significantly. For the first time America was concerned about competition from abroad, as Japan emerged as a serious car manufacturing country and the European makers started to incorporate better and new technologies.

The market began to merge and amalgamate in order to be a success, thus by the end of the decade the number of automobile manufacturers reduced and the market consolidated. British Motor Corporation was a result of this kind of amalgamation by US and UK. In Europe too niche Italian makers like Ferrari, Lancia and Maserati were taken over by large companies. The 1960s also saw the release of Ford Mustang in 1964 and Chevrolet’s Camaro in 1967.

The Oil crisis in 1973 and the rules designed for automobile emission controls changed the scene once again.  This combined with imports from Japan and Europe and the stagnation of innovation technology caused panic and played havoc in the automobile industry in America.  But during the energy crises full size sedans like the Cadillac and Lincoln made a comeback, but small but high performance cars from Toyota, Nissan and BMW replaced big engine American and Italian cars.

The major progress technologically during this era were the use of independent suspensions, increasing focus on designing vehicles which were safe, bigger application of fuel injection technology etc. The gas turbine, NSU’s Wankel engine and the turbo charger were also noted technologies of this era.

By the end of the 20th century, Japan became the world’s leader in automobile production and America lost out partially. Cars began to be mass produced in Asia, Eastern Europe and other such countries.