7 Oldest Cars Ever Created

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Although many people think Henry Ford’s Model T car is the oldest in the world, there are several early automobiles that predate Ford’s car by over 100 years. The earliest automobiles were powered by steam , heavy, slow, and designed to hold very few passengers. These early cars often had to be operated by more than one person and consumed a lot of fuel. Many of these first automobiles had innovative features that would influence the designs of modern cars.

7. Daimler-Maybach Stahlradwagen

Year: 1889
Make and Model: Gottlieb Daimler and Wilhelm Maybach – The Stahlradwagen
Engine Type: Gasoline-powered V-twin engine

 photo source: Wikimedia Commons  

The Stahlradwagen (steel-wheeled car) was made by Gottlieb Daimler with the help of his lifelong business partner Wilhelm Maybach in 1889. This was their first official automobile that did not involve adapting a horse-drawn carriage with their engine. In 1886, Daimler and Maybach put their engine in a stagecoach, but this is not considered as an automobile as they adapted a horse-drawn carriage from another manufacturer.

Although Daimler and Maybach were unable to produce their new automobile in Germany, it was licensed to be built in France, and they debuted the Stahlradwagen at the Paris Exhibition in October 1889. The following year Daimler and Maybach established Daimler Motoren Gesellschaft (DMG) to sell their engines, and they sold their first car in 1892.


6. Benz Patent-Motorwagen

Year: 1886
Make and Model: Karl Benz – Patent-Motorwagen
Engine Type: Gasoline-powered piston engine

  photo source: Wikimedia Commons  

Although several other vehicles predate the Benz Patent-Motorwagen, it’s often regarded as the world’s first official automobile, as it was the first vehicle designed to be propelled by an internal combustion engine. The car was built in 1885 by Karl Benz but he did not receive a patent until late 1886 – Benz had unveiled the car to public that summer in Mannheim, Germany.

Benz first successfully developed a gasoline-powered two-stroke piston engine in 1873 and spent the next decade developing a motorized vehicle while maintaining his career as a designer and manufacturer of stationary engines and their associated parts. Between 1886 – 1893, Benz manufactured about 25 Patent-Motorwagens.


5. La Marquise

Year: 1884
Make and Model: De Dion-Bouton et Trepardoux – Dos-a-Dos Steam Runabout (nicknamed La Marquise)
Engine Type: Steam

  photo source: Wikimedia Commons  

La Marquise was built in 1884 by a Frenchman named De Dion-Bouton et Trepardoux, which was named after his mother. Although the previous entry on this list is also believed to be the oldest running vehicle, in 2011 La Marquise was declared as the world’s oldest running automobile – that same year, the car sold at auction for $4.6 million.

The auction listing said that the car could achieve a top speed of 38 miles per hour (61 kilometers per hour) and that it had only been owned by four people since 1884. Many people believe that La Marquise was the first race car as the Count of Dion drove the car in an exhibition in 1887, though no other car showed up to race.


4. Grenville Steam Carriage

Year: 1875
Make and Model: Robert Neville Grenville – Grenville Steam Carriage
Engine Type: Steam

  photo source: Wikimedia Commons  

The Grenville Steam Carriage is the oldest steam-powered passenger vehicle that still works today. The car was built in 1875 by Robert Neville Grenville, who later became the Chief Mechanical Engineer of the Great Western Railway. The carriage is built to hold seven passengers: the driver, the steersman, a fireman, and four passengers.

After Grenville died in 1936, his family loaned the car to John Allen & Sons Ltd. of Cowley, Oxford, who completely overhauled the vehicle and in 1946, it took part in the London Jubilee Cavalcade in Regent’s Park. The car is currently on display at England’s National Motor Museum at Beaulieu, which believes that the car is still in working condition.


3. Hancock Omnibus

Year: 1832
Make and Model: Walter Hancock – The Enterprise
Engine Type: Steam

photo source: Wikipedia

The Enterprise steam omnibus was invented by Walter Hancock sometime around 1832, it was the first commercially manufactured steam-powered car in the world. The passenger bus was built for the London and Paddington Steam Carriage Company and in April 1833, it began regular service between London Wall and Paddington via Islington, making it the world’s first steam carriage service.

The Enterprise required three people to operate it: the driver sat at the front to steer via a steering wheel rather than a tiller like other early vehicles; the second operator was responsible for looking after the boiler’s water level and selecting reverse gear when required, and the third operator stood on the rear platform and maintained the fire and breaking. It is not known how the three operators communicated to keep the bus running.


2. London Steam Carriage

Year: 1803
Make and Model: Richard Trevithick – London Steam Carriage
Engine Type: Steam

photo source: Wikimedia Commons

The London Steam Carriage was built by Richard Trevithick in 1803 and it is considered to be the first self-propelled passenger-carrying vehicle. Although Cugnot’s steam powered vehicle predates Trevithick’s, Cugnot’s car was designed to haul artillery, not passengers. Trevithick had built his first experimental steam carriage in 1801, which was nicknamed the “Puffing Devil”, and drove it up a hill in Camborne, Cornwall.

Trevithick drove the 1803 steam carriage through London for about 10 miles at a speed of 4 – 9 miles per hour (6.4 – 14.5 km/h). Unfortunately, the vehicle was immediately destroyed in a fire, but the original drawings that were submitted with the patent have survived.


1. Cugnot Fardier

Year: 1770
Make and Model: Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot – fardier à vapeur
Engine Type: Steam

photo source: Wikimedia Commons

In 1770, French inventor Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot designed and built the very first self-propelled carriage. A year before the full size fardier à vapeur (steam dray) was built, Cugnot made a small prototype in 1769.

The car was built for the French military and designed to carry four tons and cover two lieues (7.8 km or 4.8 miles) in one hour, which was never actually achieved by the car.

The vehicle was not very successful and the project was eventually abandoned. In 1800, the car was taken to the Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers in Paris, where it is still on display today.


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  1. Walter Hancock 1799-1852 also invented a steam 4 passenger steam automobile for his own families personal use in 1833 he named the Phaeton. It was capable of over 30 MPH and he frequently drove it to and around Regent`s Park in London.The Duke of Wellington was given a personal demonstration riding as a passenger in the 1830`s.

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