135 years ago, on the 29th day of January 1886, Carl Benz filed an application in Berlin, Germany for a patent on his 3-wheeled motorwagen. And ever since, that very day has been officially considered and marked as the birth of automobiles. A truly, truly remarkable moment for the history and the legacy of the automobiles that followed. 135 years since, our cars are a bit different than those back then, safer, faster and more equipped than ever before. But the soul of a brand that laid its mark a century ago is still prominent today in their picturesque cars. Here’s a list of some of the world’s oldest car manufacturing companies.
A note before proceeding to the list. Some of these companies were founded before the patent for automobiles was filed. Before cars, these companies used to produce other stuff.
This iconic brand is a merger of 2 companies – Daimler Motors Corporation founded by Gottlieb Daimler and Wilhelm Maybach in 1890 and Benz & Cie founded by Karl Benz, Max Rose and Friedrich Wilhelm Eblinger, founded in 1883. They used to operate independently before merging into one as Mercedes-Benz in 1926 to mark one of the most successful and iconic carmakers of all time and current leader in the premium cars segment.
Peugeot was founded in 1803 by Jean-Pierre and Jean-Frédéric Peugeot which was originally a family-run grain mill. Peugeot manufactured saws, steel strips, springs, bikes before turning to cars. Their first ever car was a steam-powered three-wheeler showcased at the 1889 World’s Fair in Paris. And 132 years later, Peugeot is one of the most popular French brands.
Fiat was established way back in 1899 marking a golden moment in the Italian automobile legacy with brands like Alfa Romeo, Maserati, Ferrari and Lamborghini following the due course of legacy to make Italy one of the major car manufacturers and car-loving hubs.
Giovanni Agnelli, MD in the late 1910s visited Henry Ford’s factory and impressed by what he saw, he implemented Ford’s production line systems in Italy. Fiat, to date, is one of the most dearly loved brands in Europe.
Renault was founded by 3 brothers – Louis, Marcel and Fernand Renault way back in 1898. Louis overlooked the designs while his brothers took care of the management and commercial side of things. They were fond of racing and saw it as a great way of promoting their brand.
All these years later, Renaults are sold worldwide with a mark of being one of the best French brands.
Ford & Cadillac
Ford Motor Company was founded by Henry Ford in 1903. But before that, in 1901, Henry Ford created the Henry Ford Company, his shot at creating an auto manufacturing company, but however, left the company due to disagreements with financial backers, Lemuel Bowen and William Murphy.
They brought in Henry Leland who convinced them to continue manufacturing at that factory rather than appraising it. In 1902, they renamed themselves as Cadillac. Ford Motor Co., on the other hand, is remembered for a lot of things, one of it being its revolutionary mass production technique that transformed the production line forever via its Model T, and narrowly losing out at the 1966 24 hrs at Le Mans that denied their star driver, Ken Miles, a deserving victory. Ever since their inceptions, both these brands have been synonymous with the USA.
Like many on this list, Skoda firstly used to manufacture bicycles, motorcycles and eventually cars in 1905. It was founded in 1895 as Laurin and Klement.
Since 2000, it has been a subsidiary of the humongous VW Group and has been the biggest car brand in the Czech Republic. Even today, it is a very dependable player for the VW Group and a decent seller in India as well.
One of the most luxurious carmakers in the world, if not the most, Rolls-Royce was founded by Henry Royce, an Engineer and Charles Rolls, a successful businessman, in 1906. Rolls-Royce is now a subsidiary of the BMW Group but even today is viewed as one of the best carmakers in the world.
No surprises with that as its line-up consists of legendary nameplates like the Phantom, Ghost and more recently, the Cullinan and never to forget, the magical Spirit of Ecstasy.
Some really notable mentions are listed as follows because otherwise, the list would have gone on and on and on.
Tatra – Founded in 1850 in the Czech Republic as a carriage maker named Nesselsdorfer-Wagenbau-Fabriksgesellschaft and in 1897, Tatra’s first car was open to purchase. In 1919, it was named Tatra and currently, it manufactures trucks.
Opel – Founded in 1862 as a sewing machine manufacturer in Germany, Opel produced its first car in 1899 and is now a subsidiary of Groupe PSA.
Vauxhall – Founded by a Scottish Engineer, Alexander Wilson in 1857 as a pump & marine engine manufacturer, and produced its first-ever car in 1903 and is also currently a subsidiary of Groupe PSA.
Aston Martin – Probably one of the most loved British brand, if not the most, Aston Martin was founded in 1913. Growing in fame ever since becoming the James Bond’s car, Aston Martin also returns to the Formula 1 Grid in 2021 after more than 60 years of sabbatical.
Alfa Romeo, Ferrari, Maserati, Lamborghini – Alfa was founded in 1910, Maserati in 1914, Ferrari in 1939 and Lamborghini in 1963. All these brands carry a rich heritage and legacy despite not being the oldest. And what can we say about Ferrari, a relatively late entrant into the world of automobiles, but possibly the biggest, most recognised, most passionate, most raring and probably a brand that is the most synonymous with the word – ‘Automobile.’ Ciao.