The "game changer" in any industry is much like a giant, screeching asteroid violently colliding with the planet, altering the entire landscape, and forcing anything left to adapt in its wake. The fallout tends to favor the tiny single-cell organisms of the world. But that's okay because, one day, those resilient beings will evolve to decode the secrets of the universe, or create the R8. So, it all works out in the end.
For the most part, the auto industry has seen a slow, steady evolution from the horseless carriage to today's automated supercars. But every now and then, an invention comes along that radically changes the course of development and allows the industry to take massive leaps forward. Some of these "game changing" ideas, like the Ford Motor Company's movement to mass production, not only affected the auto industry, but also other industries worldwide as assembly lines became central to modern day consumerism and economics.On this list, we're going to look at the cars that changed the auto industry, and forced revolutionary innovations in car design, car technology, marketing, and general badass mechanics.
The 1912 Cadillac wasn't all that special for what it was, which is to say a very expensive toy for rich people. But there was one very important concept that changed the game for everyone: an electric starter. Most of us take starters for granted today, but that's because we've never broken a wrist while trying to hand-crank a cold engine in the morning, which is why electric starters were a huge, huge deal back in the day. They were especially huge for the internal combustion engine itself, which probably never would have beaten out its steam and electric rivals without easy starting. Once this whiz-bang gizmo hit the market, the writing was on the wall for competing power plants and the rest is history.
Would any list like this be complete without the Ford Model T? Ford's Tin Lizzy was a lot less important for what it was than how it was built. Ford's production line revolutionized not just the auto industry, but EVERY industry, along with America's entire economic structure. Ford practically created the American middle class and was largely responsible for the dissolution of America's last remaining monopolies, which ushered in what many consider to be a second industrial revolution. see more on Ford Model T
The K-Car? Seriously? Really, Ranker? Oh, yes. Without a doubt, in retrospect, K-Cars were some of the worst pieces of crap ever dropped on the buying public, but Chrysler's concept to "use the same chassis and powertrains for everything, everywhere" was probably the second most important thing to happen to the auto industry since the production line. Say what you will about it, but this now industry standard "re-badging" has allowed manufacturers to commit a lot more resources to developing powertrains and chassis. That, in itself, has been largely responsible for the massive shift in vehicle quality we've seen since the 1980s. see more on Dodge Aries
Do you like sporty crossovers? How about all-wheel-drive rally cars? Thank AMC for both. Back when it owned Jeep in 1970, AMC started developing a full-time AWD system called Quadra Trac. Using this system, AMC/Jeep utterly dominated rally racing in the early 1970s. Later, other manufacturers like Subaru and Audi would get into the full-time AWD rally game, but AMC did it first. They were also the first to install a full-time AWD system in a station wagon body, and lift that body for more ground clearance. Add all that up, and you've got yourself the world's first crossover SUV. Four years later, AMC/Jeep also first coined the term "SUV" or, Sports Utility Vehicle, to describe its Cherokee XJ, which used the same AWD system. So, really, AMC makes this list three times for pioneering full-time AWD, crossovers and SUVs as a whole. see more on AMC Spirit