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The cars that altered the course of American history

7 June 2012 Last updated at 11:56 BST

In Engines of Change: A History of the American Dream in Fifteen Cars, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Paul Ingrassia asks whether the cars we drive define us, or whether we define the cars.

Ingrassia, deputy editor-in-chief of Thomson Reuters, first became interested in cars when he moved to Detroit for a job. There he found a city full of people who spoke a language he'd never known before: cars.

The American love affair with the automobile has spanned decades, and survived stylistic and engineering blunders.

In only a century, the automobile industry has transformed the way Americans live and how they find their identity.

Ingrassia describes the history of three cars that changed America:

First, the iconic early-20th Century "People's Car," which brought on the assembly line, and ultimately, the advent of the Middle Class.

Next, a German import that became one of America's most beloved symbols of counter-culture.

And finally, Ingrassia introduces a Japanese innovation that spawned the propulsion revolution and could give us a clue about the future of the global automotive industry.