Part of becoming a fan of car history is to realize that the oldest cars in the world were powered by steam. The oldest gasoline powered car was not built until 1885, when Karl Benz produced the Benz Patent-Motorwagen. Eventually diesel and gasoline powered internal combustion engines proved to be easier to produce.
There were literally thousands of automobiles built before Henry Ford sold his first Model T. So,we limited our list to vehicles that actually traveled across terrain Second, we restricted ourselves to vehicles that there is an existing example of. Third, the vehicle had to be capable of carrying a passenger
With all of those factors in mind, these are ten of the oldest cars in the world.
1. Cugnot Fardier
At the request of French military officials, French inventor and fortifications expert Nicholas Cugnot designed and built the first self-propelled carriage. The first prototype was built in 1769. Designed to tow artillery to the battlefront, its speed was set at three miles per hour so that soldiers could keep pace with it. It could pull a load of five tons and could operate for one hour and fifteen minutes before stopping.
2. Hancock Omnibus
The Hancock Omnibus was built by English inventor Walter Hancock and can be considered the first commercially successful steam-powered vehicle in the world. Where Cugnot’s fardier was a military triumph, Hancock’s Omnibus ran a successful passenger route between London and Paddington. The nine carriages that were built carried an estimated 4,000 passengers between 1832 and 1834.
3. Grenvile Steam Carriage
In 1875, Robert Neville Grenville of Butleigh, Glastonbury, Somerset, United Kingdom began designing his steam carriage. It was an era when most cars were built by hand and were extremely expensive to operate. Grenvile’s carriage looks more like a locomotive than a car, but is only capable of carrying seven passengers. One of the passengers had to feed the steam engine to maintain speed — sometimes you have to pay a price to catch a ride! Incredibly, the vehicle ran as recently as 2009.
4. La Marquise
Built in 1884 by De Dion-Bouton et Trepardoux for the Count De Dion, La Marquise is a De Dion et Trepardoux Dos-A-Dos Steam Runabout. It has a claim to fame as having won the first automobile race in 1887. De Dion built its competitor as well. It also has the distinction of being the oldest known running automobile. La Marquise was last sold in 2011, setting an auction record for an early automobile when the gavel fell at $4.6 million. The Sotheby’s listing makes quite an interesting read.
5. 1886 Benz Patent-Motorwagen
The Benz Patent Motorwagen is generally acknowledged in car history as the first gasoline powered car. Actually built in 1885, it was not patented until 1886. It was powered by a 954 cubic centimeter single-cylinder engine that created two-thirds of a horsepower.
Built in 1886, the Hammelvognen was the first car built in Denmark. It was powered by a two-cylinder engine capable of three horsepower. It was quite innovative for the time. The Hammelvognen is one of the oldest cars in the world to offer brakes and a reverse gear. It had an estimated top speed of six miles per hour. Can you imagine going that fast over unpaved cobblestone without a suspension system? The original sits in the Danmarke Tekniske Museum.
7. 1889 Daimler-Maybach Stahlradwagen
8. De Dion-Bouton Quadricycle
De Dion-Bouton engines were so durable that many automobile builders of the day sourced their engines from the company. By 1891, De Dion-Bouton had moved to quadricycles. Some were advanced enough to incorporate an engine cover (also known as a hood or bonnet), rudimentary passenger cabins, running boards, and fenders
9. Duryea Car
Brothers Charles Duryea and Frank Duryea are credited as being the first gasoline-powered commercial car manufacturers in the United States. They drove their first car through the streets of Springfield, Massachusetts in September 1893. It was powered by a single-cylinder four-stroke gasoline engine that was water-cooled. An 1893 Duryea is on display at the Smithsonian Institute.
10. 1894 Balzer
Another American-built car was the Balzer. Built in 1894 by New York inventor Stephen Balzer, it was powered by a very lightweight three-cylinder rotary mounted engine. The engine was mounted around a stationary crankshaft that turned a short shaft that fed into the driving gears.
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