When Were Cars Invented?

Like many inventions, the car is one that has evolved over many years. It took dozens of contributions to the development of a vehicle to finally arrive at the cars we see on the streets today, and they are an example of the creativity and innovation of mankind.

The first "cars" had steam engines, and, according to the MacNally Institute, the Chinese invented the first of these vehicles around 1672. However, it was made by Ferdinand Verbiest as a toy for the emperor. Almost 100 years later, Frenchman Nicolas Cugnot invented a steam-engine vehicle that was designed to haul weapons in 1769. The machine was no faster than walking and used three wheels to get around. However, these automobiles were not exactly practical because they used a lot of water and were not easy to operate. So, it was back to the drawing board to create something a little more functional.

It took quite a bit of engineering to come up with an internal-combustion engine, but, French inventor Francois Isaac de Rivaz devised one in 1808. World Atlas reports that Siegfried Marcus upped the automobile game in 1870 when he invented the first internal-combustion engine that ran on gasoline.

The first car was a Benz

Karl Benz is recognized as the inventor of the first gasoline-fueled cars with internal-combustion engines. According to World Atlas, he worked with several inventors to get the design just right, and the first of these was built in 1885. It had three wheels, weighed about 220 pounds, and could generate about .75 horsepower. The design was improvised and, in 1901, Wilhelm Maybach is credited for developing a four-wheeled car for Benz that had a 35-horsepower engine and could reach a whopping 53 miles per hour, per History.

In the U.S., 30 manufacturers cranked out 2,500 vehicles in 1899, but it would be Henry Ford who'd take what he knew about automobiles and turn it into something life-changing for the country. History explains that Ford's 15-horsepower cars could be purchased for about $600. In 1906, his company was producing 100 cars per day, and in 1908, he established General Motors. The Model T "runabout" cost about $575, and by 1927, 15 million of them were sold.