lots of cars at a car show

No, Henry Ford Did Not Create the First Car In the United States

What Was the First Company to Make Cars In the United States? 

While the automobile didn’t gain widespread popularity and usage until around the 1920s, you may be surprised to find that the history of cars goes back quite a bit further than that. In fact, the official history of the car goes back roughly four decades earlier. Now, today, we’re familiar with a wide variety of auto brands, from overseas brands like Mercedes-Benz and Toyota to domestic brands like Chevrolet and Ford. But, which of these brands first entered the auto industry here in the United States? 

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Who Invented the Car and Created the Oldest Car Brand? 

old cars at a garage

The first name that likely comes to mind is Henry Ford of the Ford Motor Company. There is no doubt that Ford has had a successful and longstanding history of making automobiles in the United States. 

That said, many incorrectly believe that Herny Ford created the world’s first car. This is simply not true. The first car was made 11 years prior to Ford building his own, and it was created and patented in 1886 by Gottlieb Daimler and Karl Benz, the latter of which you may be familiar with from the Mercedes-Benz brand in Germany. 

That said, the answer to this question somewhat depends on how you define automobile. For example, Enrico Bernardi of Italy is said to have equipped a small gasoline engine to his son’s tricycle in 1882, and the creation of steam-powered vehicles date back to 1672, though the first one large enough to carry a person didn’t show up until the following century. Even so, Daimler and Benz are credited with inventing the car as we know it today. 

Did Henry Ford Make the First Car In the United States? 

So, although Henry Ford didn’t invent the automobile, he must have at least created the first car here in the U.S. Right? Well, it turns out he wasn’t first there either. 

Ford was not the first car company in the United States. That honor belongs to Duryea Motor Wagon Company or Springfield, Massachusetts, founded by the Duryea brothers in 1895. The two brothers built their first car, powered by a 1-cylinder 4-horsepower engine, in 1893. By 1896, Duryea had sold 13 cars, but the two brothers split not long after.  

The Duryea brand struggled to continue on through difficulties of funding and other matters, but of course, it didn’t last. Either way, it was one of many players in the early history of the automobile that helped shape the industry we see today. For more articles like this, check back to the American Car Center blog