FRONT-WHEEL DRIVE (FWD) is a form of engine and transmission layout used in motor vehicles , where the engine drives the front wheels only. Most modern front-wheel-drive vehicles feature a transverse engine , rather than the conventional longitudinal engine arrangement generally found in rear-wheel-drive and four-wheel drive vehicles.
* 1 Front-wheel-drive arrangements
* 2 History
* 2.1 Prior to 1900 * 2.2 Société Parisienne - Victoria Combination * 2.3 1900 – 1920 * 2.4 1920 – 1930 * 2.5 1930 – 1945 * 2.6 1945 – 1960
* 2.7 1960 – 1975
* 2.7.1 Giacosa innovation
* 2.8 1975 – 1990 * 2.9 1990 – present
* 3 Records * 4 See also * 5 References
Most FWD layouts are front-engined. Rear-engined layouts are possible, but rare. Historically they fall into three categories:
* Front-engine transversely mounted/
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PRIOR TO 1900
Experiments with front-wheel-drive cars date to the early days of the automobile . According to various sources, sometime between 1895 and 1898 Gräf "> 1898-1901 Victoria Combination 1898-1901 Victoria Combination
In 1898/9 the French manufacturer Société Parisienne patented their front-wheel drive articulated vehicle concept which they manufactured as a Victoria Combination . It was variously powered by 1.75 or 2.5 horsepower (1.30 or 1.86 kW) De Dion-Bouton engine or a water cooled 3.5 horsepower (2.6 kW) Aster engine. The engine was mounted on the front axle and so was rotated by the tiller steering. The name Victoria Combination described the lightweight, two-seater trailer commonly known as a Victoria, combined with the rear axle and drive mechanism from a motor tricycle that was placed in front to achieve front wheel drive. It also known as the Eureka.
By 1899 Victoria Combinations were participating in motoring events such as the 371 km Paris- St Malo race, finishing 23rd overall and second(last) in the class. In October a Victoria Combination won its class in the Paris-Rambouillet-Paris event, covering the 100 kilometre course at 26 km/h (16 mph). In 1900 it completed 240 kilometres (150 mi) non-stop at 29 km/h (18 mph).
When production ceased in mid-1901, over 400 copies had been sold for 3,000 Francs (circa $600) each.
1900 – 1920
J. Walter Christie of the
1920 – 1930
1925 Miller 122 Indianapolis 500 front-wheel-drive racer
The next successful application of front-wheel drive was the
Alvis 12/50 racing car designed by George Thomas
Smith-Clarke and William M. Dunn of
Alvis Cars of the
However, the idea of front-wheel drive languished outside of the motor racing arena as no major auto manufacturer attempted the same for production automobiles. Market experiments in the United States were left to small endeavors such as the Ruxton (200 cars in 1929), and the Cord L-29 of 1929. Neither automobile maker was particularly successful on the open market. Alvis Cars introduced a front-wheel-drive commercial model of the Alvis 12/50 in 1928, but it was not a success either.
1930 – 1945
The first successful consumer application came in 1929. The BSA
(Birmingham Small Arms Company) produced the unique front-wheel-drive
BSA three-wheeler. Production continued until 1936 during which time
sports and touring models were available. In 1931 the
DKW F1 from
1945 – 1960
In 1946, Lloyd Cars , the English car company, had produced the front-wheel-drive roadster, Lloyd 650 . The two-stroke, two-cylinder motor was mounted transversely in the front and connected to the front wheels through four-speed synchronised gearbox. The high price and lacklustre performance had doomed its production. Only 600 units were produced from 1946 to 1950.
In 1954, Alfa-Romeo had experimented with its first front-wheel-drive
compact car named "33" (not related or referred to sports car
similarly named "33"). It had the same transverse-mounted,
forward-motor layout as the modern front-wheel-drive automobiles. It
even resembled the smaller version of its popular
Alfa Romeo Giulia .
However, due to the financial difficulties in post-war Italy, the 33
never saw the production. Had Alfa-Romeo succeed in producing 33, it
would precede the
In 1955, one of the first Japanese manufacturers to utilize front-wheel drive with a transversely installed engine was the Suzuki Suzulight , which was a small "city" car, called a kei car in Japanese.
In 1959 Austin
1960 – 1975
The transversely mounted engine combined with front-wheel drive was
popularized by the 1959
Also in the 1970s and 1980s, the Douvrin engines used in the larger Renaults (20, 21, 25 and 30) used this longitudinal "forward" layout. The first generation Saab 900 , launched in 1978, also used a longitudinal engine with a transmission underneath with helical gears. The 1966 Oldsmobile Toronado was the first U.S. front-wheel-drive car since the Cord 810 . It used a longitudinal engine placement for its V8, coupled with an unusual "split" transmission, which turned the engine power 180 degrees. Power then went to a differential mounted to the transmission case, from which half-shafts took it to the wheels. The driveline was set fairly at centre-point of the wheels for better weight distribution, though this raised the engine, requiring lowered intake systems.
Little known outside of Italy, the Primula is today primarily known for innovating the modern economy-car layout. – Hemmings Motor News , ”
This Active Tourer MPV wants to be more stable than a BMW M3, and
using the DANTE GIACOSA-PATTERN front-wheel-drive layout compacts the
mechanicals and saves space for people in the reduced overall length
of what will surely become a production 1-series tall-sedan crossover.
Robert Cumberford ,
As engineered by
Dante Giacosa , the
Fiat 128 featured a
transverse-mounted engine with unequal length drive shafts and an
innovative clutch release mechanism — an arrangement which Fiat had
strategically tested on a previous production model, the Primula ,
from its less market-critical subsidiary,
Ready for production in 1964, the Primula featured a gear train offset from the differential and final drive with unequal length drive shafts . The layout enabled the engine and gearbox to be located side by side without sharing lubricating fluid while orienting the cooling fan toward fresh air flow. By using the Primula as a test-bed, Fiat was able to sufficiently resolve the layout's disadvantages, including uneven side-to-side power transmission, uneven tire wear and potential torque steer , the tendency for the power of the engine alone to steer the car under heavy acceleration.
After the 128, Fiat further demonstrated the layout's flexibility, re-configurating the 128 drive-train as a mid-engined layout for the Fiat X1/9 . The compact, efficient Giacosa layout — a transversely-mounted engine with transmission mounted beside the engine driving the front wheels through an offset final-drive and unequal-length driveshafts, combined with MacPherson struts and an independently located radiator — subsequently became common with competitors and arguably an industry standard.
1975 – 1990
Corporate Average Fuel Economy standard drove a mass changeover
of cars in the U.S. to front-wheel drive. The change began in 1978,
with the introduction of the first American-built transverse-engined
Plymouth Horizon and
Dodge Omni (based on the European
Simca Horizon ), followed by the 1980
Chevrolet Citation and
numerous other vehicles. Meanwhile, European car makers, that had
moved to front-wheel drive decades before, began to homogenize their
engine arrangement only in this decade, leaving
By reducing drivetrain weight and space needs, vehicles could be made
smaller and more efficient without sacrificing acceleration.
Integrating the powertrain with a transverse as opposed to a
longitudinal layout, along with unibody construction and the use of
constant velocity jointed drive axles, along with front wheel drive
has evolved into the modern-day mass market automobile. Some suggest
that the introduction of the modern
1990 – PRESENT
The Chevrolet Cobalt , a front-wheel-drive car made from 2004 to 2010
The vast majority of front-wheel-drive vehicles today use a
transversely mounted engine with "end-on" mounted transmission,
driving the front wheels via driveshafts linked via constant velocity
(CV) joints , and a flexibly located electronically controlled cooling
fan. This configuration was pioneered by
Dante Giacosa in the 1964
Autobianchi Primula and popularized with the
Fiat 128 . Fiat promoted
in its advertising that mechanical features consumed only 20% of the
vehicle's volume and that
Volvo Cars has switched its entire lineup after the 900 series to
front-wheel drive. Swedish engineers at the company have said that
transversely mounted engines allow for more crumple zone area in a
head-on collision. American auto manufacturers are now shifting larger
models (such as the
Chrysler 300 and most of the
* The Nissan GT-R LM Nismo race car holds the record for being the most-powerful front-wheel-drive car, with its combustion engine outputs approximately 500 hp (370 kW; 510 PS) while the flywheel system is intended to have an additional output of approximately 750 hp (560 kW; 760 PS). This accounts for a total of 1,250 hp (930 kW; 1,270 PS).
* However, the 1970 Oldsmobile Toronado remains the most-powerful street-legal front-wheel drive production car till today, with W-34 option producing 400 hp (298 kW).
* ^ A B Georgano, G.N (Nick) (1973). The Complete Encyclopedia of
Motorcars, 1885 to the present day. London: Ebury Press.
* ^ A B Grace\'s Guide to Industrial History. Profile of La Societe
* ^ A B C D Bonhams Auctioneers, Profile description of Parisienne
at Wikimedia Commons
* ^ A B C D Bonhams Auctioneers - Profile of La Société
Parisienne - Victoria Combination
* ^ Unique Cars and Parts.
Voiturette Racing - Before The Formula
* ^ "Front
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