Even though all-wheel drive systems are quite common among today’s models, this wasn’t always the case. The highly capable AWD cars were almost unheard of a few decades ago. In fact, they were just a technical novelty reserved only for off-road SUVs and special models.
For years, buyers could only find all-wheel drivetrains in Jeeps and heavy-duty trucks. In fact, the idea of a passenger car or even a sports car with power going to all four wheels was simply crazy. Although they produced several cars with this system and invented the AWD drivetrain in the early 20th century, nobody wanted to invest in regular production.
The reason for its delay was that installing the all-wheel-drive into a regular car used to be a complicated, expensive and demanding process requiring heavy-duty components. But, even so, a few maverick companies managed to produce AWD cars to kickstart the trend drivers enjoy today.
So, keep reading to learn about 18 of the most influential and memorable all-wheel-drive cars. They range from the start of the 20th century, all the way up to modern supercars with computer-controlled and electronically monitored all-wheel-drive systems. The AWD drivetrain helps improve traction and performance, so soon regular front and rear-wheel-only drive cars will be a thing of past.
1. 1900 Lohner-Porsche
This obscure car was immensely important in automotive history since it was the first all-wheel-drive vehicle. But also, it was the first hybrid car to combine electric power with a gasoline engine. Designed by Ferdinand Porsche, it was complicated and not exactly a sales hit, but it showed the way.
The Lochner-Porsche displayed fantastic traction and road holding. However, its big weight and a lot of unsorted mechanical problems caused its demise. Sadly, it took over a century for mainstream manufacturers to recognize the concept and introduce the all-wheel-drive hybrids of today.