The ability to conveniently and securely raise a vehicle above ground is something that many mechanics and DIY car enthusiasts may take for granted these days. However, like any technology, the automotive lift has an origin and a story. Let’s take a look at how it came to be.
In the days before automotive lifts, anyone who maintained or repaired a vehicle had to make do with methods that didn’t offer the same level of ergonomic functionality. Aside from squeezing underneath the vehicle using a creeper, pits were often dug into the ground. The vehicle would be driven over the pit so that the mechanic had more flexible access to the underside, but this wasn’t optimal in terms of comfort, ventilation, and cost. Any mechanic or DIY car enthusiast knows it’s not uncommon to still see excavation pits used in professional garages today. However, over time this technique created a need for something more effective.
Perhaps the most important technological development to contribute to the creation of the automotive lift was hydraulics. Hydraulic technology has seen countless applications throughout history, but it was French physicist Blaise Pascal who developed a principle of transmission of fluid pressure in the late 1640s. Also known as Pascal’s law, it describes how fluids such as water or oil can transfer and significantly multiply force through contained exertion of pressure. In the late 1700s, British inventor Joseph Bramah applied Pascal’s law to create the hydraulic press, using the piston and cylinder design we see in lifts and many other technologies.
Inspired by the hydraulic press used in barber chairs, American car mechanic Peter Lunati developed the hydraulic automotive lift in the early 1920s. Not only did it use hydraulic pressure to lift cars, it also rotated 360 degrees to account for the difficulty of operating cars in reverse at the time. Various developments would ensue over several decades, including the increasing preference for surface lifts over in-ground lifts, the creation of two and four-post lifts, and the use of asymmetrical lifts to prevent door damage. Today, we live in a time when industry grade lifts are more accessible than ever, not just for professional mechanics, but for hobbyists too!
Car lovers depend on vehicle lifts every day, so it’s only right that the companies who sell them can be relied upon to provide the highest quality for the best price. At Lift King, this is what we’re all about. Get in touch by calling us at (403) 283-1020 and we’ll help you find the lift you need!
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