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10 Innovative and Influential Cars From History

  The cars of today owe a lot to the vehicles that came before them. Car design has always been about innovation and breaking new ground, but it's rare to find an automobile that can genuinely be said to have changed everything that came afterwards. The cars on this list were not your average motors - each and every one of them had an influence that reached far beyond their original conception. Here are the unique stories of ten of the most innovative and influential cars ever produced.
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1. Ford Model T (1908)

The first mass-produced automobile.

The Model T - colloquially known as the Tin Lizzie - is generally regarded as the first affordable car in the world, and the vehicle that opened up a world of automobile travel to the middle classes. Ford's assembly line production made it all possible, setting a standard of manufacturing that influenced almost every industry in the world. Produced between 1908 and 1927, more than 15 million Tin Lizzies were sold, and the car gave mobility to the masses. For that reason, it is often considered to be one of the most influential developments in the history of design and production.

2. Rolls Royce Silver Ghost (1908)

The first military car.

At the time of its development, the beautiful Rolls Royce Silver Ghost was considered to be at the forefront of luxury car design. However, it was to become something much more important than a toy for the rich. In 1914, all Silver Ghost chassis were re-purposed to form the basis for a brand new armored car, and the vehicles ended up playing a significant part in World War I, the Irish Civil War, the Turkish Wars and even World War II. In doing so, the Silver Ghost gave birth to the modern concept of mechanized military conflicts and ended the days of the horse cavalry.

3. Austin Seven (1922)
The first 'people's car'.
The Austin 7 is a legendary British car that was hugely successful both in its home country and abroad. It is often seen as the forerunner to the modern automobile as we know it, and made a huge impact on the economy car market that was comparable to the innovative inroads made by the Ford Model T fifteen years before. It is seen as the first 'people's car' that further popularized motoring, and it was re-bodied to form the basis for the first cars produced by BMW, Nissan, Lotus, Jaguar and the Australian firm Holden.
4. Volkswagen Beetle (1938)

The mechanical innovator that became a cultural icon.

It's hard to find another automobile with the rich history of the Volkswagen Beetle. The brainchild of Ferdinand Porsche, it was one of the first rear-engine automobiles and was specifically designed to travel at 100kph on Germany's autobahn highway system. It also featured one of the world's first air-cooled engine designs, but its impact went way beyond its mechanical innovations. Its production lasted for 65 years between 1938 and 2006 - the longest ever run for a single design concept - and it was the first car to truly become a cultural icon (helped by the 'Herbie' films of course), showing that motor cars had a place in wider entertainment. 
5. BMC Mini (1959)
The early 'hot hatchback'.

Another car that gained an influence outside of the motoring world is the much loved BMC mini. It was conceptualized as a car for everyone and went on to be produced in over 100 variants in countries all over the globe. It was also one of the first modern front wheel drive cars, and made the idea of the small 'hot hatchback' cool. This simple, little car which came to symbolize the 'swinging' 60s, was one of the first efficient 'city' cars and became a rally car, racing legend and movie icon in pictures like The Italian Job.

6. Citroen DS (1955)

The groundbreaking car that influenced car design for years.

The Citroën DS always occupies high places when experts are looking to crown the best car of all time, and with good reason. This executive car was years ahead of its time and it's widely accepted that every modern car model can in some way trace its design back to the DS. It was the first mass production car to include disc brakes and feature an aerodynamic body design, considered futuristic at the time but standard today, it had hydraulic suspensions and revolving headlights, and sold a then-record 12,000 units on its first day of release. It remains one of the most influential automobile designs ever produced.

7. Jaguar E-Type (1961)

The luxury icon of the 1960s.

The Jaguar E-Type is one of the most beautiful sports cars ever to grace the road, and a legend of 1960s design. At a time when most cars were more about practicality than style and performance, the E-Type boasted top speeds in excess of 150mph and could travel 0-60mph in under 7 seconds. It was the first production vehicle that didn't feature a body fixed to a separate chassis, instead, it employed a 'racing design' where the body was attached to a tubular framework. It will always be associated with high performance and sleek sophistication, and it influenced sports car designed long after it left the production line.

8. Lamborghini Miura (1966)

The world's first super car.

The Lamborghini Miura was the world's first super car, and pushed the boundaries of what people thought was possible in automobile design. It ushered in the era of the high-performance, two-seater sports car and was lightning quick - comfortably the fastest road car in production when it was first released. The design shared much more in common with the race cars of the day, rather than the sleek touring car designs that had previously been favored by car firm bosses, including Ferruccio Lamborghini himself, who objected to the original concept for the Miura, forcing the company's engineers to design it in their spare time.

9. Chrysler Minivan (1983)

The first ever multi-passenger mini-van.

In 1983, Chrysler effectively invented the Minivan and changed the way cars were conceptualized for good. The Minivan's design grew from the need for a vehicle suitable for larger families, which still retained the driveability of a normal car. It looked boxy, but had a sliding side door that made loading the kids in the car easy, yet it was small enough to fit into a standard parking spot. Owning one came to symbolize both success and, paradoxically, 'lost youth' in 1980s America. The car changed the landscape of automobile design forever.

10. Toyota Prius (1997)
The world's first mass-produced electric hybrid vehicle.​
The Toyota Prius was the first mass-produced hybrid, electric vehicle in the world, and its influence is probably yet to be fully realized. Just as the Model T and Austin 7 brought automobiles to the masses, the Prius broke new ground in the important quest for an electric powered alternative to modern gas guzzlers and remains one of the most environmentally friendly cars sold to date (now in its fourth generation, it remains in production). For all these reasons, the Prius deserves its place on this list of the most innovative car designs of all time.
Content Source: Chris on Cars
Image Source: 1, 2, 3, 4, 56, 7, 8, 9, 10 
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