The History Of Four Wheel Drives
Early days of four wheel drive vehicles
and significant technical developments:
- 1898: Latil (France) making
front wheel drive units and then 4x4.
- 1898: Tatra starts manufacturing.
- 1900: Ferdinand Porsche's La Toujours Contente
is battery-powered with 4 electric motors, one per wheel.
He later patents the Mixte transmission: a petrol engine drives a
dynamo and electric motors drive the wheels (too expensive for the day).
- 1902: Spyker (Dutch)
full-time four wheel drive car built. Exhibited at
the Paris Motor Show in December 1903 [Sco61].
- 1907: Felix and Norman Caldwell of South Australia apply for
a patent for four wheel drive plus four wheel steering;
they go on to build
4x4 trucks with Henry Vale.
- 1911: FWD sells its first 4x4 [Bal87].
- 1913: Jeffrey Quad 4X4 truck
goes into production.
- 1915: Big Lizzie
road train (Au).
- 1917: First Oshkosh four wheel drive truck [Bal88].
- 1922, December 17: Citroen
half-tracks leave from Touggourt in Algeria to cross the Sahara Desert.
- 1924, December 28: Citroen
half-tracks leave to traverse Africa.
- 1929: AEC start to
build AWD trucks in conjunction with FWD (UK).
- 1931-1932: Citroen-Haardt expedition, using
half-tracks, follows part of Marco-Polo's route from Beirut to Beijing.
- 1932: Miller
4x4 racing cars at Indianapolis.
- 1934: AEC
(one of three built) brought to Australia. It consisted of
an 8x8 prime-mover and two 8-wheel self-tracking trailers.
start building 4WD trucks (- George Miles).
- 1934: Prototype PX-33 four wheel drive car built for
the Japanese government; the car did not go into production (Mitsubishi).
Thanks to Balazs Toth.
- 1938: GAZ 61 - Russian 4x4.
- 1940: Jeep specification issued.
- 1940-1941: Bantam build 2700 light 4x4s, early "Jeeps".
- 1941-1945: Ford and Willys-Overland build 700,000
General Purpose vehicles for WWII
(GP becomes Jeep).
- 1946, October 10: Unimog introduced
(- H. J. Feil).
- 1948: Series-1
- 1948: Ford release first of the F-Series vehicles.
- 1950: Ford GPA, or amphibious Jeep
crosses the Atlantic ocean (I am not making this up).
- 1951: First Toyota Landcruiser built, as the `BJ Jeep',
the LandCruiser name came in 1954.
- 1951 - NAPCO (Northwestern Auto Parts Company) starts to produce 4x4 conversion units.
The earliest documentable truck to be converted by NAPCO was a 1951 Chevy 3/4 ton
owned by Butch Gehrig of Odell, Oregon.
- 1954-1956: Amphibious Jeep `La Tortuga' "drives"
from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego.
- 1955-1956: London to Singapore overland
(except for Channel!) 2 x Land-Rovers.
- 1958: First Toyota
imported into Australia.
- 1959: Haflinger
- 1960: A Jeep and a Land-Rover traverse the
- 1961: Stirling Moss driving a
Ferguson Project 99 (P99)
with the Ferguson 4WD system wins the Oulton Park Gold-Cup race.
- 1964, 17 July: Bluebird (4WD)
raises the land speed record to 403 mph.
- 1966: Jensen FF all wheel drive road car is put into production
(until 1971), using a
4WD system with centre diff' and viscous coupling ?? -->
(the FF also had ABS brakes) - John Wild.
- 1970: Range Rover
released - luxury full-time 4WD.
- 1971: Ford Falcon XY ute 4WD (Australia)
- 1971: Four wheel drive on
- 1971-1972: British
Range Rover expedition.
- 1974: Subaru
Leone L-series - four wheel drive passenger car.
- 1979: AMC produce the Eagle 4x4 car
- 1981: Humvee or Hummer
(HMMWV - High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle) specification issued.
- 1981: Audi revolutionize rallying with the
Quattro 4WD rally car.
- 1981: Porsche must have been watching Audi as they showed a
AWD concept car at the Frankfurt Motor Show [Porsche].
- 1983: Land Rover 110,
coil-sprung, full-time 4WD.
- 1984: A
AWD wins the Paris
- 1986: Porsche
959 AWDs finish 1, 2 and 6 in the Paris Dakar rally.
- 1994: Range Rover completely revised.
- 1996: Jeep Wrangler gets coil springs!
- 2002 and onwards???
[Email and contacts]
|| N. Baldwin. Four-Wheel Drive and Land-Rover.
Shire publ'n, 1988.|
|| M. Clayton. Jeep. David and Charles, 1982.|
|| R. Hough & M. Frostick.
A History of the World's Racing Cars. Allen&Unwin 1965.|
|| T. Hutchings. Land-Rover. The Early Years. 1982.|
|| D. Nye. Motor Racing Mavericks. Batsford 1974.|
|| H. R. Rifkind.
Jeep Genesis, the Rifkind Report.
Washington DC 1943, ISO Galago London 1983.|
|| D. Scott-Moncrieff. Veteran and Edwardian Motor Cars.
B. T. Batsford Ltd., London, 1955, 1956, 1961.|
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