Have you ever wondered what the oldest cars in the world are? A quick answer may be the Ford Model T. That is understandable, since one of the few pieces of car history taught in American schools is Henry Ford’s contributions to the mass production of the automobile. Unless you have the desire to delve deep into automotive history, you may not even realize that the internal combustion engine is bit of a johnny-come-lately addition to the automobile, putting the Model T fairly far down the list of oldest cars in the world.
Part of becoming a fan of car history is to realize that the oldest cars in the world were powered by steam. The oldest gasoline powered car was not built until 1885, when Karl Benz produced the Benz Patent-Motorwagen. Eventually diesel and gasoline powered internal combustion engines proved to be easier to produce. The engines also proved to be more predictable and reliable to use as well as being more economical to operate. Those qualities have allowed the internal combustion engine to dominate car history. However, that may change as alternative fuels become more attractive to a wider customer base.
There were literally thousands of automobiles built before Henry Ford sold his first Model T. So, how do you narrow what could become a very long list? First, we limited our list to vehicles that actually traveled across terrain. We are using the word ”terrain” because streets were limited to large towns and there was no highway system when the first cars and trucks were built. Second, we restricted ourselves to vehicles that there is an existing example of. Third, the vehicle had to be capable of carrying a passenger. That eliminates the earliest electric units that were either small-scale models only or just traveled on a track without an operator. Lastly, we eliminated trains, motorcycles, steamboats, etc… in order to focus on cars and trucks. With all of those factors in mind, these are ten of the oldest cars in the world.