Nowadays, working as a profession is so commonplace that few of us stop considering its origins. This profession had to emerge after the widespread availability of automobiles. Automobiles were pioneered in the late 1800s, laying the groundwork for the auto mechanics industry.
A talent that proved invaluable throughout the war and paved the way for post-conflict economic development on a global scale. The United States had especially heavily impacted. Let’s go into the background of car mechanics since it’s a fascinating tale.
Early Invention: 1800s
The first vehicles appeared in the 1800s in Europe, marking the beginning of the field of auto mechanics. History.com states that the first practical vehicle was developed and completed in Europe in 1901. These designers and builders from the late 1800s are the first examples of auto mechanics. They created the first functional autos, paving the way for future generations of innovators and entrepreneurs.
Although early European cars were technologically sophisticated compared to their American counterparts, they were not standardised, making it difficult for owners to locate mechanics familiar with their vehicles. Car owners who were fortunate enough to hire a driver with expertise in maintaining their vehicles tended to be well-off professionals.
These drivers/mechanics bridged the divide between the higher and lower classes by relieving their employers of the stress of dealing with automobile repairs. They also helped keep their businesses running smoothly. The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) reports that carriage drivers and footmen ready to learn the craft benefited from the increased money and status afforded by the recognition of their specialised expertise by upper-class car owners.
The first vehicles were developed in Europe in the late 1800s. It took the inventors some time to perfect their vehicles, but once they did, they started targeting the wealthy with their new automobiles. Due to the novelty of these vehicles, it became increasingly difficult for their owners to locate a technician willing to work on them when they broke down.
However, some drivers educated themselves in auto maintenance and repair to boost their earnings. The first group of mechanics emerged as more and more motorists educated themselves about the vehicles they were operating.
The Depression Years
While a record number of cars were sold in 1929, sales fell dramatically in the years following the stock market crisis in October 1929 that ushered in the Great Depression.
The decline in the auto industry has had a disproportionately negative impact on the already struggling U.S. economy. Jobs were lost in the leading company and in many of the supporting businesses dealing with the automobile manufacturing industry.
And yet, the auto industry continued introducing new and exciting features and designs. Some 40% of American households had cars by 1934, despite the Great Depression.
In 1935, the United Car Workers Union was formed to provide workers in the auto industry with higher wages and other benefits.
Some market experts have argued that providing association benefits such as annuities has been financially burdensome for the organisations who did so, leading in some instances to insolvencies and other similarly dire outcomes.
In 1938, General Motors began shipping automobiles equipped with Hydra-Matic, an automated gear-shifting mechanism. Two years later, Oldsmobile and Cadillac produced cars with the first fully computer-controlled gearboxes. By 1941, Packard had been the industry standard bearer regarding AC availability.
The automobile industry’s most notable contribution to technical progress is the advent of large-scale mass manufacturing, which combines accuracy, standardisation, interchangeability, synchronisation, and continuity.
The United States of America pioneered mass manufacturing. Partially investigated in the 19th century, the technology found its natural home in the United States because of its large population, high level of life, and enormous distances.
Standardisation and interchangeability were often described as “the American method of production,” even though Europe had also contributed to the experimenting. Although the underlying processes were well understood, they had never been used to create a device as sophisticated as an automobile.
In 1908, the British Royal Automobile Club in London put on a dramatic demonstration of the interchangeability achieved by the “American system” by taking apart three Cadillacs, mixing up the parts, randomly removing 89 parts and replacing them from dealer stock, and then driving the cars for 500 miles (800 kilometres).
Henry M Leland, the Cadillac Motor Car Company founder, was responsible for this showmanship. He later enlisted the help of a prominent electrical engineer, Charles F. Kettering, to create the electric starter. This significant innovation contributed to the widespread acceptance of the gasoline-powered automobile.
Even though the advent of mass manufacturing in the car industry corresponded with the development of large-scale corporate organisations, these two trends emerged separately. Despite this, they were intertwined and mutually affected the business’s growth.
Ford was already the most significant single American company when it adopted the system. Only a vast business could afford to make the substantial investment in equipment and machinery needed by the assembly line.
In turn, the mass manufacturer had a cost advantage, making it harder for smaller rivals to stay in business. Of course, there have been outliers, but the pattern has generally held.
Independent Automakers are Going out of Business
General Motors, Ford, Chrysler, Hudson, Nash-Kelvinator, Packard, Studebaker, and Crosley Motors were the only major automakers to make it through the Great Depression.
Due to their more significant financial resources, the Big Three had a competitive advantage over the smaller, independent automakers in marketing, manufacturing, and technical innovation. By the 1960s, most of the Big Three’s rivals had ceased production, and by the 1980s, the Big Three had acquired their last significant domestic rival.
After 1952, Crosley Motors discontinued making automobiles. In 1954, Packard and Studebaker amalgamated, but by 1966, both companies had stopped making automobiles altogether.
Established in 1945, Kaiser-Frazer Corporation purchased Jeep manufacturer Willys-Overland Motors in 1953. In 1955, the auto industry halted the production of automobiles for the general public. American Motors Corporation purchased the business in 1970.
The American Motors Corporation was formed when Nash-Kelvinator and Hudson amalgamated in 1954. (AMC). The firm struggled financially despite introducing several groundbreaking products and marketing strategies.
Renault, a French automaker, took over AMC in the early 1980s, the company’s financial woes persisted, and Chrysler Corporation eventually acquired AMC in 1987.
Every once in a while, a new group of entrepreneurs would try to break into the car industry by starting their own company. Preston Tucker’s 1948 sedan, Earl Muntz’s Muntz Car Company, Malcolm Bricklin’s Bricklin SV-1, the new Stutz Blackhawk, Clénet Coachworks, Zimmer, Excalibur, and John DeLorean’s DeLorean are just a few of the most well-known.
Henry Ford’s early American automobiles weren’t as sophisticated as their European counterparts. However, the production and cost of these automobiles were both reduced. As a result, it became more customary for people to have their cars. The need for qualified auto technicians soared as vehicles on the road increased.
Because of the increasing complexity of their design and construction, these vehicles have become more difficult to maintain. Though fixing cars may have been easier in the past, the increasing complexity of modern vehicles has necessitated the services of a trained professional mechanic. Because of this, conventional vehicle repair businesses have entered the market.
Traditional Places Where Cars are Fixed
You’ll need to take your automobile to a repair shop staffed by experts and wait around while they fix it. Auto maintenance and repairs used to take far longer to complete than they do now.
However, as technicians continued to service vehicles, they discovered new techniques to streamline the process, and today vehicle repairs are completed in much less time. The vehicle repair market continues to develop and flourish now.
You can take your Ford to a Ford mechanic, but your buddy with a Honda may take it to a Honda technician. Since automobiles have become so complex, some people may still attempt to do repairs on their own in the garage.
The introduction of mobile mechanics is the most recent and our favourite significant development in the vehicle repair sector. Similar to regular mechanics, mobile mechanics are becoming more popular, except they bring their services directly to you. At KARREP, for instance, we have technicians who work on client automobiles and those that focus on fleet-related services.
We are far beyond the point of just fixing automobiles at this time in the auto repair sector and are instead exploring ever-novel approaches to expanding and improving customer access to and satisfaction with these services.
Type in your vehicle details and servicing requirements, and we’ll give you an estimate. The next step is for you to schedule a time and place when we may come to you and repair your car at your convenience.
From the 1930s to Mid-Century, the Market was Stuck
Sales of automobiles dropped precipitously as the Great Depression began. Still, the auto industry (including repair shops and factories) was under pressure to maintain profitability while unable to respond to changing market conditions.
Paint, one of the most widely used and immediately noticeable vehicle body tools, was often handled by the owner during this era of still-infant automobile repair. The paint used on cars in the early to mid-1900s was reportedly far less durable than the paints used now, as reported by Eastwood.com.
As a result, regular maintenance was essential to keep vehicles weatherproof. In the past, car owners would use brushes and paint to decorate their rides manually. Auto owners had little incentive to engage a personal auto body technician to do paint repairs since runs and finish flaws were widespread, even on automobiles fresh off the assembly line.