Oldest Car Manufacturers in the World

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Millions of cars are produced every year, and we see thousands every day as we travel the roads. But how much do we really know about the history behind car brands that we see? From being founded as a grain mill to a marine engine manufacturer, each car brand has its rich heritage and humble beginnings. Read on to discover the top oldest car brands in the world:

Ford

Ford is one of the most trusted American brands when it comes to automobiles. It earned a reputation for making great cars with top quality and excellent reputation. They gave the world The Mustang, which is one of the best cars of all time.

Henry Ford created his first vehicle in 1886, and it boasted a four horse-powered engine. But it was in 1903 when the Ford company was formally founded. Besides being one of the oldest and well-established car manufacturers in the world, what makes Ford so famous is its revolutionary advancements in assembly-line mass production. The style of production meant that cars could be made cheaper and sold for a lower price, giving lots of Americans the ability to own a car for the first time. When the Ford Model T was produced, it gave many Americans a way to travel without needing to spend too much money.

Cadillac

Cadillac would not likely come to be if not for Henry Ford, the founder of Ford Motor Company. In 1901, Henry Ford founded the Henry Ford Company in Detroit, Michigan, his second attempt to establish his name as an automobile manufacturer. Ford left the company due to disagreements with financial backer William Murphy. When Murphy brought in Henry Leland as a consultant, Ford left the company that bears his name. With him gone, Murphy renamed the company Cadillac Automobile Company. Still, it was a good move for Henry Ford because he launched Ford after leaving his former company.

Cadillac has its successes and amazing feats when it comes to the automobile industry. Today, it is owned by General Motors and made a name for itself in selling luxury car vehicles. It was the first car company to win the Royal Automobile Club of the United Kingdom’s Dewar Trophy in 1908 and won again in 1912. It churned out amazing vehicles, such as The Escalade, The XT4, the ATS, and many others.

Fiat

Fiat (Fabbrica Italiana Automobili Torino) was founded in 1899 by Giovanni Agnelli and still remains one of Italy’s largest car brands. This car brand is extremely well-known across Europe. In 2014, it merged with Chrysler Automobiles to form Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA), and then merged with PSA group in 2021 to form Stellantis. The brand won 12 European Car of the Year awards, which is more than any vehicle production company has ever won. Read more about its history here.

Fiat is known for its luxury and quality cars, but they haven’t always had the best reputation. Back then, motorists used to joke that the name Fiat stands for “Fix It Again, Tony.” But year after year, the company tried to improve its product until it became a reliable car.

Renault

Founded in 1899, Renault was launched by a trio of brothers from France: Louis, Marcel, and Fernand Renault. Louis was an engineer and designer who created the prototypes before the company was founded, and his brothers handled the business. They were focused on building cars at first, but as the years passed by, they shifted their focus to building engines and other car parts for military aircraft and military vehicles during WWI – including cargo vehicles, trucks, and buses.

Renault’s shift in focus proved to be a good move since now they are currently one of the world’s largest providers, especially in Europe. The company has also won six European Car of the Year awards, three Autobest Car of the Year Awards, and other national-level awards.

Land Rover

Originally founded as the Lancashire Steam Motor Company in 1986, this British brand of off-road capable vehicles started out as a creator of steam lawnmowers. Eventually, they created their first steam-powered van shortly after founding. And in 1907, the company renamed itself Leyland Motors. It changed its name again to British Leyland Motor Corporation when it merged with another company in 1968, and then changed its name again in 1975 when it became a state-owned company. The Land Rover brand was established in 1978.

Land Rover has become an established and world-trusted brand when it comes to producing off-road vehicles perfect for adventurers and outdoorsmen. It is now owned by multinational car manufacturer Jaguar Land Rover.

Skoda Auto

Founded in 1895 in the Czech Republic, Skoda Auto started out as Laurin&Klement and manufactured motorcycles, bicycles, and cars. Since it began manufacturing cars in 1905, the company rose to become the Austria-Hungary region’s biggest automobile manufacturer.

Though its reputation hasn’t always been the best, the company has made strides in the past decade to remind the public that they can make excellent cars. In 2017, Skoda reported its best sales year ever. It’s the biggest and the most popular car brand in the Czech Republic and is also involved in motorsports.

Mercedes Benz

Mercedes Benz is a famous luxury car brand with a reputation for being classy, stylish, and well-made. Its logo is one of the most trusted symbols in the world when it comes to cars. Though it wasn’t officially founded until 1926, Mercedes Benz was a result of a merging of two automobile manufacturers that existed for much longer.

The luxury car company was a combination of the Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft (DMG) established in 1890, and the Benz &CompanieRheinischeGasmotoren-Fabrik founded in 1883. The combined company was previously named Benz and Cie way back in 1883, making it one of the oldest car brands in the world. It started out as a manufacturer of gas engines and industrial machines before Karl Benz decided to focus on automobiles, which he called “horseless carriages.” In 1886, he created the Benz Patent-Motorwagen – the world’s first gasoline-powered automobile. Then, the rest is history.

Opel

Opel, or Opel Automobile GmbH, is a German automobile manufacturer founded in 1862 as a maker of sewing machines. The company started making bicycles in 1886 and made its first car in 1899. In 1902, the company debuted an automobile at the 1902 Hamburg Motor Show but didn’t shift its focus for automobiles until their factory burned down a few years later. That fire came to be a blessing, though, as the company decided to drop their sewing machine business and focus on cars alone after the incident. By 1913, they became the most prominent car company in Germany and the biggest in Europe by 1930.

Opel did not only manufacture cars under its own brand, but it’s also selling vehicles under the brands Buick, Holden, and Vauxhall. It’s now a subsidiary of Groupe PSA, though it used to be under General motors.

Tatra

A Czech vehicle manufacturer, Tatra is owned by the Tatra Trucks Company. It was founded as IgnatzSchustala& Comp., and it started out manufacturing horse-drawn carriages. The company branched out to producing railroad cars and renamed itself in the process. By 1897, Tetra’s technical director bought a Benz automobile and was inspired to make the company’s first car because of it. The following year, the company manufactured its first truck.

Tatra has an unbroken history, but they didn’t always have a good reputation. The company produced trucks and tank engines for the German military during World War II, but it turned quickly around corners that many German soldiers behind the wheel. Soon, orders were issued forbidding German soldiers from using Tatra trucks and engines. Tatra improved their craft, and that’s why a renowned truck racer named Karel Loprais has won the Dakar Rally six times with a Tatra truck.

Peugeot

In 1810, Peugeot first opened as a family-run coffee mill company. Eventually, the French company began manufacturing bicycles in 1830 and then coffee, salt, and pepper grinders in 1842. Armand Peugeot, the son of the grain mill company’s founders, decided to produce cars in 1882. The first car they created was put out as a collaboration with Leon Serpollet in 1889. Their first creation, which was showcased at the World’s Fair in Paris, was a steam tricycle that was too unreliable for mass production. With the help of a Panhard-Daimler engine, the internal combustion car was improved in 1890.

Peugeot makes remarkable automobiles and has won five European Car of the Year awards, four Car of the Year Auto Europa awards, nine Car of the Year awards (Spain), and two Semperit Irish Car of the Year Awards. Its motorsport department, Peugeot Sport, has won five World Rally Championships, three Intercontinental Rally Challenge Championships, two World Endurance Championships, and two Intercontinental Le Mans Cups. Peugeot has really come a long way since its beginning.

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