This year, the Tesla Model S electric car is the top-selling automobile in Norway. This continues the innovative sedan’s success from the latter half of 2013. Norwegian drivers love the Tesla’s sleek design, comfort, and eco-friendliness. It represents over a century of progress in automotive design.
My, how the times have changed since the days of the 1895 Benz Phaeton! This was the first automobile in Norway. I recently had the pleasure of seeing one in the Norwegian Museum of Science. It’s inspiring, and a bit humorous, to see the differences between this car of the late 19th century, compared to the modern Tesla Model S:
- It’s easy to take the benefits of modern headlights for granted, but the ’95 Phaeton used a primitive candle to provide illumination on dark roads.
- It’s not unusual for a modern automobile to deliver the power of over one hundred horses! That’s quite amazing if you think about it, in the grand history of human invention. This car provided the power of a whopping…five horses. Not fifty, but five. Impressive for a vehicle smaller than a train, back in its day, but pitiful compared to even the cheapest cars of today.
- The top speed of the 1895 Benz Phaeton, over a perfectly flat country road: twenty kph.
- Sometimes, the engine wasn’t enough, and the car needed help from its drivers…the Phaeton often needed to be pushed up hills!
- It was already slower than a horse, and to make matters worse, the 1895 Benz Phaeton’s noisy engine often scared horses, requiring it to be shut off whenever a horse-drawn carriage passed by!
Examine the car visually, too. Notice how much its creators evidently based its design on that of horse-drawn carriages. When someone came up with the idea of a horseless carriage, the old idea of what a four-wheeled vehicle should look like hung around for quite some time. That, along with the great technological innovation between the late 19th century and the early 21st, makes the 1895 Benz Phaeton noteworthy in the technological development of Norway.
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