1. Autos
Send to a Friend via Email

Your suggestion is on its way!

An email with a link to:


was emailed to:

Thanks for sharing About.com with others!

You can opt-out at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy for contact information.

Antique Cars 1880 Through 1916


Antique Cars 1880 Through 1916

1910 Ford Tourer

In a Class of its Own
The classification of “Antique Car” applies to those wonderful automobiles that were manufactured at the conception of motorized travel up until the US involvement in the First World War in 1916. By that time, most car production was effectively stalled in Britain, Germany, France, Italy and the US, to allow for the manufacturing of military vehicles; often on the same factory production lines.

It Started With Steam
The first of the "horseless carriages" that man used to get him from one place to another was propelled with steam. In 1765, Swiss engineer Nicholas-Joseph Cugnot was credited with building the first full-scale steam vehicle which could carry four passengers at 3mph. In 1801 the Cornish Engineer, Richard Trevithick, produced a steam carriage that could produce a top speed of 12 mph, with gears that provided a high ratios for level roads and low ratios for going up hills. Steam powered vehicles continued to develop until the arrival of the internal combustion engine patented by the Belgian, Etienne Lenoir, in 1860.

The Arrival of the Four-Stroke Engine
The four-stroke engine was designed by Gottlieb Daimler and Karl Benz, almost at the same time. But it was Benz who put his creation on a three wheeled tubular framed chassis and produced the first limited-run production motorcar. Panhard and Levassor were two French engineers who began manufacturing Daimler’s four-stroke engine and then sold the rights to a manufacturing firm called Peugeot because they saw no future in motorcars.

How Mercedes got its Name
As the demand for the motor car rose, so did production; Karl Benz produced 2,000 cars by the end of 1890, mainly for rich buyers. In 1901, Daimler received an order for 30 cars from the wealthy Austro-Hungarian Consul, Emil Jellinek, on the condition that they are named “Mercedes” after his daughter. Following that, all German Daimlers were called Mercedes.

Ford Delivers the Model T
In 1903 Henry Ford founded the Ford Motor Company and produced the unmistakable and very practical Model T, using the engine design of Etienne Lenoir. The Model T's instant popularity changed the demand of motorcars overnight; to keep up with the country’s insatiable desire for motoring, Ford created the first moving production line. However, the advent of WWI ended the antique car era by halting any further big advances in design and engineering.

We owe a great deal to the Antiques
We owe the rest of the development of the automobile industry to these early designs with all their strengths and many weaknesses; antique designs did not have a windshield or roof, featured square-sided body styling and bicycle-inspired fenders and wood frames. But they used engine technologies still seen in many cars today.

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.