Who invented the Car

Since the invention of the wheel people have been using carriages drawn by horses and donkeys for transport, but the invention of the car truly redefined transport since speed was no longer limited by the speed of the slowest running horse. Desire for a horseless carriage has been around for many hundreds of years, and some of the first experiments predate the industrial revolution.

Cars, which are also known as automobiles have gone thru many styles and variations, with early cars looking more like trackless trains or horse drawn carriages than anything we would recognize as a car in the 21st century. On the other hand, some of the futuristic designs presented at car shows in the 20th century, and even some of the current crop of future designs are so different from anything we have seen in production that people of the 22nd century may be as fascinated with today’s cars as we are with those first models.

ferdinand verbiest Who invented the Car

Many people believe the very first car ever invented was a small scale steam model built for the Emperor of China by Ferdinand Verbiest in 1672, but modern historians dismiss this claim since the vehicle was just a toy and could never have been used to transport a person being only 64cm long. Steam engines have been known of since Roman times and whilst Verbiest’s design was unique, even if it was built today it could not transport people or cargo since the entire platform was taken up with the engine.

The first full size vehicle capable of carrying people some distance was invented by a Frenchman named Nicholas-Joseph Cugnot whose four wheeled carriage had a large steam boiler attached to the front. His design worked, but the technology in 1770 didn’t exist to create high pressure steam so his car was slow and quickly abandoned. Steam was experimented with for many years, and by the 1830s was being used extensively in the construction of trains and buses in London, but as the power behind cars it never really was accepted.

The first car with an internal combustion engine using liquid fuel was built by Siegfried Marcus in 1870, but his design was only a proof of concept and it was another 18 years until he produced a vehicle with seating for passengers, and rightfully cementing Marcus as the inventor of the car. He only built one model, which can still be seen in the Technical Museum of Vienna.

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Many historians consider a German, Karl Benz, to be the true inventor of the car because his was the first car with an internal combustion engine built with seating for passengers in 1885, and entering production in 1888, leading many to suggest Marcus only developed his second vehicle after seeing the success of his counterparts in Germany.

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Peter is the founder of WhoGuides - The History Website. He's always happy to share his passion for history. Use the contact form if you want to get in touch with him.

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