Do you know a little about the history of cars? Many people consider themselves car enthusiasts but don’t really know how it all started and the long road the automobile industry has taken in order to reach where it is today. Well, it all began with the steam engine, before Karl Benz invented the four-stroke engine in 1879.
In case you were wondering, this is in fact the man who created Mercedes-Benz, a brand named after his daughter. In 1903, the Ford Model T was introduced to the world, and obviously, it is today considered one of the most iconic cars ever. This paved the way for many new automakers, but not many of them are still alive today. For instance, have you ever heard of Panhard and Levassor? What about Oldsmobile? Although those brands are no longer alive, they were some of the first to create cars for the mass market.
So, today we’ve compiled a list of 15 cars produced between 1880 and 1940 that you probably didn’t know exist. Let’s get right to it!
15. 1907 Cadillac Model K
In the early 1900s, American cars were not yet appreciated by the European market. This might have to do with European snobbery, but the reality is that American carmakers had yet to produce any vehicles that could compete with theirs. However, the Cadillac Model K was a breakthrough car that paved the way more for American carmakers.
14. 1927 La Salle Model 303
The 1927 La Salle was first unveiled in 1927, and in total, 10,767 were produced by General Motors. At the time, cars with a single, simple color such as black or navy blue was the norm, but this one was offered in two-tone combinations. In 1940, GM stopped producing the car as they felt that it was taking sales away from Cadillac.
13. 1902 Panhard And Levassor
The 1902 Panhard and Levassor was one of the first cars ever built, making it influential to other models for many years to come. In addition, it was the first to have a front engine and rear-drive, which became the standard for the following fifty years. Panhard and Levassor built their last car ever in 1956.
12. 1916-1923 Packard Twin Six
The Packard Twin Six was a luxury car that sort of looks like today’s London cabs, and it came equipped with an 85-horsepower engine. The car really put Packard on the map, and this car was so well built that it saw virtually no changes for the following eight years.
11. 1923-1931 Lancia Lambda
The Lancia Lambda is a pioneer in the automobile world as it is the first to use the method of construction that is still used by most carmakers today. This was a huge technical milestone that was made possible by the brilliant Italian Vincenzo Lancia whose main aim was to create a car with a low center of gravity.
10. 1901 Mercedes 35 HP
Many people will tell you that the 1901 Mercedes 35 HP was the first car to ever be produced, but this is something that many historians debate about. Of course, today, 35 horsepower is laughable, but you have to remember that this was 120 years ago, and at the time, this was considered amazing.
9. 1901-1907 Oldsmobile Curved Dash
In the twentieth century, the Curved Dash Oldsmobile was the most sold car in the United States, and it is a vehicle that saved the brand from dying completely. In 1901, a fire broke out at the Olds Company, and the only car that was able to be rescued was the Oldsmobile, a car considered reliable at the time.
8. 1935 Stout Scarab
Have you ever heard of the Scarab? Yeah, we didn’t think so. This car from 1935 is extremely rare, and if you want to check it out, your best shot is probably at the Detroit Historical Museum. Its design is extremely peculiar and it looks like the minivan’s awkward ancestor. Only nine were ever produced and five are still around.
7. 1911-1915 Mercer Raceabout Model 35-R
Mercer was not a huge company, but nevertheless, it was made quite famous by the Raceabout Model 35-R, and although no exact number exists, it is estimated to have had an engine able to produce 50 to 60 horsepower. Upon its release, it cost $2,250, which was considered a steep price at the time.
6. 1915-1922 Stutz Bearcat
Similar to the Raceabout, the Stutz Bearcat is one of the classic American sports cars of the time, but this one was weaker as it only had around 23 horsepower. It was highly popular and sales were doing really well for around half a decade before Stutz started facing trouble.
5. 1924 Chrysler Model B-70
The 1924 Model B-70 is where it all started for automobile giants Chrysler, and the successful production of this vehicle allowed the brand to enter the market. This beautifully-built vehicle came with 70 horsepower and it was first introduced to the world at the New York Automobile Show in 1924, and a year later, the Chrysler corporation was officially established.
4. 1915 Cadillac V-8 Type 51
In 1914, Cadillac sales started to dwindle, and this was because the American carmakers had probably held on to their 4-cylinder engine for a little bit too long. Other brands were already offering six-cylinder cars, and to compete, Cadillac’s answer was to release the Type 51, a durable, reliable eight-cylinder car.
3. 1922 Wills Sainte Claire A-68 Roadster
Harold Wills was a popular designer at Ford until he left to pursue his dream of building his own car. As he had earned millions in his job at Ford, money wasn’t an issue, and he was able to build a factory to create the Sainte Claire A-68 Roadster, a car whose engine was inspired by World War I planes.
2. 1925 Renault 6 CV NN
Before the Renault 6 CV NN, Renault was considered a luxury car maker by Americans, even though it produced cars of many different classes. This little French car was far from a powerful vehicle, with an engine only able to produce 8.3 bhp and a top speed of 47 miles per hour.
1. 1928 Studebaker President Eight
With the production of the President Eight, the aim by Studebaker was to create the greatest eight-cylinder vehicle in the world, no matter the cost. This gave birth to a car with a top speed of around 65 miles per hour that could challenge luxury cars but had a more modest price tag.