From the beginning through the thundering thirties, the auto industry thrived in America. Though Karl Benz is generally credited with inventing the motor carriage in Germany in 1886, mass production occurred in the U.S, first with the curved dash 1901 Oldsmobile, then with the conveyor-belt system used by Henry Ford's Model T, starting in 1908. There were hundreds, even thousands of manufacturers in the early days, making cars powered by gas, electricity and steam. But gas-fueled internal combustion engines won out, and the number of makes was drastically reduced, particularly after the Great Depression of 1929. Gorgeous, fast, expensive and exclusive classic cars were produced in the late '20s and early-mid thirties, but many manufacturers were forced out of business due to the general economic malaise. Then came World War II. U.S. auto production came to a complete halt early in the1942 model year, as "Detroit" produced aircraft, tanks, military Jeeps, munitions and other war materiale.
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