A Drive Through History

The car has greatly evolved over the past century, and Popular Science has been along for the transformational ride.

Popular Science has been documenting the love affair between Americans and their cars since the first Model T rolled out of the factory in 1908. Like any relationship, it has changed over time, and that’s reflected in the magazine’s coverage.

This article originally appeared in the October 2014 issue of Popular Science.

Car ownership almost tripled by the end of the ’20s. Early gear-heads benefited from how-to’s and stories about maintenance.
After World War II, more cars took to the road, only to find highways unprepared. Safety was a focus of R&D; departments — and drivers.
Love for cars turned into an obsession. Readers devoured details about the newest models.
Car technology had come a long way — but humans hadn’t. Attention shifted from everyday driving perils to more challenging conditions.
In the ’70s, an oil embargo caused gas prices to soar, putting alternative fuel sources front and center.
The ’80s brought more regulation. Uncontrolled skidding clearly topped safety concerns; five covers featured skids and tires.
A stronger economy helped advance car technologies. The ’90s were all about sleek designs to drive us into the 21st century.