How did Americans travel with cars in the past?

Expert Answers
mrkirschner eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Americans did not use the car very much in the early Twentieth Century. Cars were basically a luxury item that did not travel much faster than a bicycle. Early cars were not affordable for the masses and there were not adequate roads for automobile travel. In addition, car manufacturers could not produce very many automobiles in the early Twentieth Century.

Important developments happened in the 1920's to accommodate the usage of the automobile. The engineering of the combustible engine was overhauled to make cars faster. Henry Ford's innovation in car production, the assembly line, made cars more affordable for the masses. Because of the assembly line, manufacturers could meet the growing demands for the car. During the Twenties, Congress helped Americans by funding federal highway construction to ensure the demand for roads did not outpace the supply of automobiles. It was during this era, that Americans started to travel longer distances and make this country seem smaller than ever.

winge1ae | Student


Cars have transformed drastically in the last hundred years. Though automobiles were invented around 1886 in Germany, the Ford Motor Company streamlined the Model T in 1908 in Detroit, Michigan. The extremely efficient building process of the Model T made it affordable for the masses, therefore it grew in popularity.  

The Model T did not go very fast (40 mph) and only had three gears. To start it, the driver would have to get out and walk to the front of the car, where a big crank could be used to start the engine. 

There were not many roads initially. They began from the cities and worked their ways out to the country as the decade went on. 


I hope this helps!