“In the year just closed, the U.S. has produced more automobiles, both passenger carrying and commercial vehicle types, than have ever before been made in the same period. The development of the automobile mechanism has reached that point where the majority of automobiles incorporate the same essential principles. It matters not whether the engine is four or twelve cylinders or the selling price of the car $500 or $5,000, the proportions of the constituent parts and the best materials for the different members are now so well known that engine or chassis failure, resulting from poor design, is practically unknown on even the cheapest cars.”

Scientific American, January 1917

More gems from Scientific American’s first 175 years can be found on our anniversary archive page.