Most people, per lessons taught in early history classes, believe that automobiles were created around 1900 with the first car being Henry Ford’s Model T. This fact, however, is an incorrect fact. There were a variety of cars that were created prior to the Model T, with the first gasoline-fueled car having been produced in 1885. Prior to the creation of the combustion engine that many know today, vehicles were fueled by steam power. From boats to cars, prior to 1885 steam was the fuel of choice for many manufacturers across a variety of different industries. Due to flaws in record-keeping, a few of these vehicles’ creation dates are estimated but this list will start with the earliest vehicle and work its way towards present time.
Cugnot Fardier à Vapeur
Invented by Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot, a French military engineer, the fardier à vapeur was created as a smaller model in 1969. The following year, Cugnot designed the fardier à vapeur to carry four tons in weight for a distance of 7.8 kilometers; a feat that would replicate the vehicle’s use in a military setting. Powered by steam, the vehicle initially underwent efficiency and instability issues.
Walter Hancock is the inventor that is responsible for the variety of Omnibuses that were developed between 1824 and 1836. By 1827, Hancock applied for a patent that would further improve the safety of bus passengers. During the twelve year run Hancock designed many Omnibuses that would carry passengers between numerous British cities.
Grenville Steam Carriage
The Grenville Steam Carriage is an impressive vehicle due to the fact that it is still operable today. Robert Neville Grenville begun developing the carriage in 1875 and designed it to carry seven occupants. Though the carriage was complicated to operate, it survived the turn of two centuries.
The La Marquise was developed in 1884 by De Dion-Bouton et Trepardoux. By 1887 the car was entered in the world’s first automobile race, which it won by default. In 1888, the La Marquise won its first actual race.
Nearly 12 years after developing his first gasoline-powered engine, Karl Benz created the Benz Patent-Motorwagen. This 1885 automobile was created by the founder of the company that is now known as Mercedes-Benz. Benz was given the patent for the motorwagen on January 29, 1886.
Hammelvognen was a Danish automotive manufacturer that closed their doors in 1888. They produced their first car in 1886, producing it with a braking system and a reverse gear, which was rare for the time. Their original creation now resides within a Danish museum.
Developed by two automotive pioneers, Gottlieb Daimler and Wilhelm Maybach, the Stahlradwagen was an 1889 one-cylinder creation. The water-cooled vehicle would later be utilized by Peugeot for inspiration.
De Dion-Bouton Quadricycle
A successor to the La Marquise, the De Dion-Bouton quadricycle begun production in 1891. Though not all De Dion-Bouton quadricycles had hoods, the few that did were not salvaged throughout the course of time.
Created by two brothers, Charles Duryea and Frank Duryea, the car was built within the United States. The brothers first tested their creation in Massachusetts in 1893.
The Balzer was developed in 1894 by Stephen Balzer, an inventor from New York. Balzer chose to power his car using a three-cylinder combustion engine.