It is quite challenging work to track down the first car ever made since the history of automobiles itself had quite the long journey on its way to becoming the system of transportation that we know and use today. Working out the person who invented the first car is a very long and twisted road, and it is especially harder to be able to find out the single person who was responsible.
If you look at the evolution of cars and rewind it past the things such as automatic transmissions, anti-lock braking systems, GPS tracking, and even past the Ford Model T, you will find yourself coming up to Benz Motor Model No 1. This car is the link that was missing between horse-drawn buggies and cars.
This three-wheeled motor car was patented by Karl Benz back in 1886. Back then this car was dubbed the “Motorwagen”. Benz is the man who is often referred to as the man who invented the first car because the Motorwagen was the very first and true modern automobile.
- Karl Benz And Motorwagen
- The Heart Of An Automobile
- The First Rechargeable Electric Car
- The Fall and Rise of Electric Cars
- The First Car Ever Made
Karl Benz And Motorwagen
When Karl Benz had patented the Motorwagen, he also went on ahead to get his spark plugs, throttle system, gear shifters, a carburetor, a water radiator, and a bunch of other fundamental parts to the automobile.
After getting all that patented, Benz eventually ended up building his own car company that still exists even now. It is under the name of the Daimler Group.
Even though Benz had patented the first car that was powered by gasoline, he was not the only person who had this original vision of self-propelled vehicles. Here are some highlights to name a few:
Browsing Through The History
- Early back in the 1500s, Leonardo da Vinci also sketched a cart that was mechanized and did not require the use of horses to move. Just like many of his other designs, this one did not see the light of creation in his lifetime either. There is however a replica of it up on display at Leonardo da Vinci’s last home, Château Clos Lucé, which is now a museum.
- When the first Westerners had visited, China used their sailing chariots that were propelled by the power of the wind. Simon Steven from Holland, back in the 1600s built one of them that was able to carry 28 people and was also able to cover 63 km (39 miles) within two hours.
- The list of these visionaries is not over yet, we still have a Frenchman by the name of Nicholas-Joseph Cugnot. Back in 1769, Cugnot used a steam engine to build a self-propelled vehicle. This cart, which was designed to be moving pieces of artillery, was able to move at a pace of walking (3.2 km/h or 2 mph). Moreover, it had to be stopped every 20 minutes so that a new steam head could be built.
Looking back on the history of cars or automobiles, it is quite clear that at different times the word “car” meant different things to people. If you look back to the 19th century a car was referred to as a streetcar (also called a tram). Before that, some omnibuses were pulled by horses, but on rails, those were referred to as horse cars. Then eventually the word “car” was associated with what we used to previously called a “horseless carriage.”
The Heart Of An Automobile
One of the most vital components of the modern automobile is the internal combustion engine. This is a type of engine that pushes a piston within a cylinder using explosive combustion of fuel. The movement of the piston then turns a crankshaft which is connected to the wheels of the car and hence turns the wheels with the help of a drive shaft or a chain.
The different types of fuel that you will see being commonly used for the combustion engine of a car would be petrol (or gasoline), diesel, or even kerosene.
If you want to take a look at the highlight of the internal combustion engine history, here is what you should know:
- 1680: Christian Huygens, a Dutch physicist who was mostly known for the contributions he made as an astronomer, designed an internal combustion engine that used gunpowder as a source of fuel. However, he only designed it and never actually built it.
- 1807: An internal combustion engine that made use of a mixture of both oxygen and hydrogen as a source of fuel, was made by Francois Isaac de Rivaz of Switzerland. Rivaz had also designed a car so that his engine could be fitted into it, the first automobile powered by an internal combustion engine. However, his design was very unsuccessful.
- 1824: Samuel Brown, who is an English engineer, took a steam engine and then altered it so that it was able to burn gasoline. He then put it on a carriage and briefly powered it up in London at Shooter’s Hill. Brown’s prototype automobile never really got the point of being adopted.
- 1858: Jean Joseph Étienne Lenoir, an engineer from Belgium, invented a combustion engine that used coal gas as a source of fuel. By using a primitive carburetor and petroleum, Lenoir was able to attach an even more improved engine to a three-wheeler wagon. That wagon was able to complete a historic road trip of 50 miles.
- 1876: Sir Dougald Clerk was able to invent the first-ever successful two-stroke engine.
- 1885: What most people recognize as the prototype of our modern-day gas engine was invented by Gottlieb Daimler. It had a vertical cylinder, the gasoline was injected through the carburetor. Using this engine, Daimler first built the Reitwagen, a two-wheeled vehicle. With the same engine, a year later he built the first four-wheeled motor vehicle in the world.
- 1890: The first four-cylinder, four-stroke engine was built by Wilhelm Maybach.
The Time Leap
The designing of engines was an activity that was integral to the designing of cars. Most of the engine designers that we mentioned above also designed cars. A few of them even actually went on ahead to become some of the major automobile manufacturers.
The first thought that pops up in your head when you think of the first actual and proper car is most definitely the 1886 Motorwagen that was patented by Karl Benz. He made use of bicycle parts and built a completely new vehicle just around the internal combustion engine. What makes this car so interesting is that it was a motorized bicycle.
When it comes to the evolution of the internal combustion engines/vehicles, all of these inventors, including a lot more, made some of the most notable improvements.
The First Rechargeable Electric Car
Inventors were already out experimenting with horseless carriages that were electric by the time it was 1832. However, by then no one had been successful in building a battery that was rechargeable. This is why the electric cars that were made back then could be counted as disposables.
A very well talented French inventor, Gustave Trouvé, was the first to ever bring in the new, lightweight technology of rechargeable batteries. By doing this he was able to improve the efficiency of the already existing electrical engines by a lot. He was able to invent a great many devices, just with the use of components.
Some of these amazing inventions were an electric helicopter and a self-propelled boat. If you thought that was enough, he was the person who actually invented a headlamp and also a metal detector. Some of the other contributions from Gustave Trouvé also include a portable slide projector, and also an early endoscope.
First Electric Car
Soon after Trouvé had his attention taken over by automobiles. Back in 1881, Gustav Trouvé had mounted his motor and battery on a British tricycle. Of course, he did not just stop there, he even rode that tricycle around the streets of Paris. In doing so Trouvé made the first rechargeable electric car in the world and it was done back in 1881.
Electric cars were already available to people around the 19th century. However, when Henry Ford had his Model T developed, electric cars instantly fell out of favor. Although in recent times, we are witnessing electric cars making a comeback.
Even with electric cars, it is hard to pinpoint one person responsible for the creation of this technology, just like internal combustion engines. However, two inventors are credited for being able to independently invent the first electric car. They are, an inventor from Scotland, Robert Anderson, and an inventor from America, Thomas Davenport back in the 1830s.
In 1865, a French physicist, Gaston Plante invented the first rechargeable battery. They were able to replace the non-rechargeable batteries that were being used in the earlier models of the electric car. Here are some of the innovations that came through:
- Back in 1881, a French chemist, Camille Faure, was able to improve Plante’s lead-acid battery design. This allowed electric cars to become more of a viable option for consumers.
- In 1891, the first person to have to successfully build an electric car that functions properly was from Des Moines, Iowa. His name is William Morrison.
- In 1899, a race car driver from Belgium, Camille Jénatzy, actually built and even raced an electric car. He was also able to set the new speed record on land. His record was 100 km/h (translating to 62 mph). The name of his car was La Jamais Content, which also translates to “the never satisfied.”
- Back in 1900, an automotive engineer from Germany, Ferdinand Porsche was the one to build the very first-ever hybrid car.
- Back in 1907, Thomas Edison helped in developing a battery that was a lot less hazardous than the lead-acid battery that was used in cars. He helped to develop a nickel alkaline battery, and it was not just a lot less dangerous, but also a lot more durable. This battery was not appealing to the consumers due to the initial cost being high, but several companies did use it in their delivery trucks. This is because it offered a lot more durability as well as longer ranges.
Electric cars kept on gaining popularity and around 1895 when the first automobile race was held in the United States, six entries were featured, and two of those entries were electric cars.
The Fall And Rise Of Electric Cars
Back in 1908, when the Model T was introduced for the first by Henry Ford, electric cars began to see their decline. This was because the Model T was a high-quality car that was powered by gasoline and it was a lot less expensive compared to an electric car.
Gasoline had become a lot cheaper and was available quite a lot more back in the 1920s. All that made the Americans start to travel even greater distances. Electric cars at the time did not have the range that was being offered by the gas-powered cars. Moreover, a lot of rural cities still did not have a steady connection to electricity either. All of this led to making the automobile of choice to become a gasoline-powered car.
Even during the 20th century, when electric cars still had slight popularity in America, they still had a very bad battery system. The only reason electric cars are good and can be considered driving is because of the batteries they have now.
Back in 1976, when the prices of oil started to go up again, and there were shortages of gasoline, Congress passed the Electric and Hybrid Vehicle Research, Development, and Demonstration Act. A lot of the car companies started to design and research more electric options that were also more fuel-efficient. However, it was just around the 1990s that there was some actual progress.
The First Hybrid Car
The first hybrid car in the world that was mass-produced and out available all around the world by the year 2000 was the Toyota Prius. Before it was available everywhere around the world, it was first developed and also released in Japan back in 1997. The United States had the hybrid car Insight, from Honda, be released there back in 1999.
Then Tesla Motors got into the game and started the development and production of a car that was all-electric and all about luxury. This luxurious all-electric was able to take you more than 200 miles with just one single charge. Their first model was released back in 2008. And then back in 2010, it was the Chevrolet Volt became the first-ever hybrid to extend the range of the vehicle when the battery was completely depleted by using a gasoline engine.
If you look at the history of electric automobiles it is amazing to see the evolution to this day now where almost every other automobile company is manufacturing and developing their hybrid and electric car models.
The First Car Ever Made
When we are talking about the first car ever made, we all talk about Karl Benz. The reason why he gets so much credit for inventing the automobile has lots of reasons behind it. One of the main reasons was that his car was more practical. With the help of an internal combustion engine that was powered by gasoline, the car made by Benz worked just like the modern cars that we drive around today.
Back in 1844, a city called Karlsruhe, which is a city located in southwest Germany, is where Karl Benz was born. Karl’s father was a worker at the railway and he had died when Karl was just at a very young age of 2.
Even though they were poor, Benz’s mother made sure that she supported both him as well as his education. At the young age of 15, Karl was already admitted to the University of Karlsruhe. He graduated from the university back in 1864 with a degree in mechanical engineering.
First Benz Venture
The very first venture that Benz had was an iron foundry and a workshop for sheet metal, and this venture flopped. However, he had Bertha Ringer, his new bride, who had used her dowry to fund a new factory so that they were able to build gas engines. With all these profits, Benz was finally able to start building his horseless carriage that was powered by gas.
By the time it was 1888, Benz had already privately built three prototypes for his Motor Car. It was also around that time that Bertha thought it would be a great time to attract some press. So Bertha took out her two teenage sons in the latest model, early in the morning, and drove 66 miles to her mother’s house.
Along the way there, she was improvising the repairs with the help of her shoe leather, her garter, and her hairpin. This successful trip by Bertha helped Benz to learn how to work more on improving the car. Not only that, but it also showed the public just how important and useful automobiles were.
The following year, at the World’s Fair, held in Paris, is where Benz had demonstrated his own Model 3 Motorwagen. During the trip that Bertha took, she figured out a bunch of things as well, how the brakes needed to be better, and how the car needed a better lower gear so that it was able to go uphill more easily.
Bertha even actually stopped by at a cobbler’s so that she could have him put some leather pads on the braking pads so that they could be improved. This approach was then adopted by Karl Benz himself.
Benz had more faith and confidence in his creation and he had started to believe that it was sellable when Bertha took the car out and went on a whole road trip. She went around 40 miles in that car. The people were all amazed when Benz put out the car on sale at a trade fair.
Selling The First Car
Benz had finally started to sell his car and along with the rights so that other people around Europe would also be able to manufacture them as well. Back in 1929 is when Karl Benz sadly passed away. It was just two years after he had just merged with Gottlieb Daimler’s (also another fellow car manufacturer) company.
That company built up to being what we call today the Daimler Group. This is the company that is responsible for the manufacturing of the Mercedes Benz.
Figuring out and pinpointing the single person who was the creator of cars is something really hard to do given the history of automobiles. Depending on what your idea of a car is it could have been even made back in the 1600s. However, the most practical example of a car was first created by Karl Benz.
This is why the Motorwagen, by Karl Benz, is considered to be the first car ever made. We hope this has helped you in understanding more about the history of automobiles, the engines, and the process and work it took to get where we are now.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
1. Who Was The Creator Of The First Car Ever Made?
The person who created the first car was none other than Karl Benz. He made the first Motor Car, the Motorwagen.
2. What Is The Oldest Car Ever Made?
The Cugnot Fardier has to be the oldest car that was ever made. It was built back in 1770 by Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot, and it used a steam engine.
3. When Was The First Internal Combustion Engine Car Made?
The first internal combustion engine car was made by François Isaac de Rivaz back in 1807. This was around 40 years later than Cugnot.