History of the Invention of Cars

We’ve used cars for quite some time now, and they’ve become a very accessible commodity. Brands like BMW, Jeep, Mercedez, and many more produce high-quality vehicles with unique features, not to mention electric and hybrid rides that are said to be the future transportation of choice. However, just some 200 years back, such things were unimaginable to a regular person, and the early prototypes, though impressive for that time, didn’t manage to find their niche. It’s amusing to think that horse carriages were still more cost-effective in those days.  Let’s go down memory lane and try to pinpoint the person who came up with the technological wonder while mentioning important contributions that led to modern vehicles.

Who Invented The Car?

Just as with any invention, it all started with an idea. The first concept of the car can be traced to Leonardo Da Vinci, the well-renowned painter, and inventor who was way ahead of his time. However, crediting someone with creating the first vehicle is a challenging task. But once you get past all modern features, like GPS, antilock brakes, and automatic transmission, you’ll eventually stumble upon Benz Motor Car No. 1. Karl Benz invented the three-wheeled Motor Car, known as the “Motorwagen”, in 1866. It was the first true, modern automobile, and that’s why many name him the actual inventor. Benz also patented his throttle system, spark plugs, gear shifter, water radiator, carburetor, and other fundamental vehicle elements. Later, he created Daimler Group, a car company that still exists today. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Karl Benz also had a direct contender named Gottlieb Daimler, who also built the prototype auto on March 8, 1886. Preceding both of them was Nicolas Joseph Cugnot of France, who made his automobile in 1769. He is even recognized as the first person to invent one by the British Royal Automobile Club and the Automobile Club de France.

Important Contributions And Milestones

As you can see, there’s no real way to determine who was the first person to create an automobile. Many brilliant inventors have spent sleepless nights designing and testing their creations. Let’s look into what they did and how significant their contributions were.

Nicolaus Otto

One of the most important landmarks in engine design came from Nicolaus August Otto, who, in 1876, invented an effective gas motor engine. He made the first practical four-stroke internal combustion engine, the “Otto Cycle Engine”. As soon as he was done, he successfully built it into a motorcycle, opening the pathway for other people to use his invention.

Gottlieb Daimler

In 1885 with his partner, Wilhelm Maybach, Gottlieb Daimler reinvented Otto’s internal combustion engine, considered the closest thing to a modern one. Daimler worked at Deutz Gasmotorenfabrik, which Nikolaus Otto co-owned in 1872, and transferred that experience into this creation and his further work. Gottlieb Daimler improved upon his designs and, in 1889, created a V-slanted two-cylinder, four-stroke engine with mushroom-shaped valves, setting a new standard in the industry. He and his partner even built an automobile in the same year. It had a four-speed transmission and speeds of 10 mph. Because of his inventions, gasoline automobiles started to gain traction and outsell other types of motor vehicles. The market began to grow actively, and the demand was through the roof.

Rene Panhard and Emile Levassor

That’s why Rene Panhard and Emile Levassor built their first auto with a Daimler engine just after a year. Edouard Sarazin, who held the license rights to the Daimler patent, commissioned them to create one, leading to even more breakthroughs. Panhard and Levassor made autos with a pedal-operated clutch, a chain transmission leading to a change-speed gearbox, and a front radiator. Levassor was the first designer to move the engine from the back to the front of the vehicle and use a rear-wheel-drive layout. All french manufacturers didn’t standardize their vehicles, so they always came out different. The first standardized car was the 1894 Benz Velo, and about a hundred and thirty-four identical Velos were manufactured in 1895.

American Inventors

America’s first gasoline-powered commercial car manufacturers were Charles and Frank Duryea. The brothers were bicycle makers interested in gasoline engines and automobiles and built their first motor vehicle in 1893 in Springfield, Massachusetts. However, it wasn’t mass-produced, and only 13 models of limousine Duryea were sold. The first auto that became pretty popular in the US was the 1901 Curved Dash Oldsmobile. Ransome Eli Olds, who invented the basic concept of the assembly line and started the Detroit automobile industry, produced the vehicle. About 425 Curve Dash Olds were sold by 1901, which made him the leading manufacturer until 1904. The most notable figure in the US automotive industry, however, was Henry Ford. He was the first to design an improved assembly line and installed the conveyor belt-based assembly line in his Michigan plant around 1913-1914. It helped reduce production costs and assembly time. In 1896 he made his first car called “Quadricycle”, which factored in Model T’s creation in 1908. The latter was a big success and had 15 million models made by 1927.


Even though this article doesn’t cover all the events in-depth, the journey to the modern vehicle is still impressive. Technology has come a long way, but it’s always the work of the notable individual that pushes things forward. We hope you’ve learned something new and got the idea of how the first car came into existence!

1934 Dodge DR Convertible Coupe

1934 Packard V12 Convertible Victoria 1108

1934 Packard Victoria Convertible

1935 Auburn Speedster 851.

1935 Chevrolet truck ii

1935 Chevrolet truck

1934 Chevrolet Master

1934 Lincoln KB V-12 Convertible Sedan

1934 Packard Convertible Coupe

1936 Cord 810 Phaeton ii

1936 Cord 810 Phaeton

1936 Ford Deluxe Station Wagon

1937 Ford Deluxe Station Wagon

1937 Cord 812 Supercharged Sportsman Convertible.

1937 Delahaye 145 Chapron Coup

1934 Rolls-Royce Phantom II Star

1937 Cord 812 Supercharged Phaeton

1937 LaSalle Opera Coupe

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