The 5 Oldest Car Companies

The invention of the car has revolutionized the world as we know it. The very first vehicle was made in the early 1800s. It was fueled with hydrogen and ran on an internal combustion engine. The car industry has come a long way since; but did you know there are some car manufacturers that are 100+ years old? Let’s take a look at a few.


  • Founded: August 22, 1902
  • Founders: William Murphy, Lemuel Bowen, Henry M. Leland
  • Headquarters: Warren, Michigan
  • Areas served: U.S., Canada, Mexico, Europe, Middle East (except Iran and Syria), China, South Korea, Japan
  • Owner: General Motors
  • Fun facts:
    • Cadillac is among the first automotive brands in the world, second in the U.S. only to fellow GM marque Buick.
    • It was named after Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac, who discovered Detroit, Michigan.
    • The Cadillac crest is based on his coat of arms.
    • Cadillac was the first U.S. car to win the Royal Automobile Club of the UK’s Dewar Trophy due to the interchangeability of its components during a 1908 reliability test. This win spawned the firm’s slogan “Standard of the World.” It won again in 1912 for incorporating an electric starter and lights in a production automobile.
    • Before the outbreak of World War II, Cadillac, like most manufacturers, participated in various types of motorsports.
    • In the 1950s, Cadillac participated in the NASCAR Grand National Series for about 10 years

Fiat Automobiles

  • Founded: July 11, 1899
  • Founder: Giovanni Agnelli
  • Headquarters: Turin, Piedmont, Italy
  • Areas served: Worldwide, except Canada, Australia, and New Zealand
  • Owner: Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles 
  • Fun facts:
    • During its 100+ year history, it remained the largest automobile manufacturer in Europe and third in the world after General Motors and Ford, until the car industry crisis of the late 1980s.
    • Fiat has also manufactured railway engines, military vehicles, farm tractors, aircraft, and weapons such as the Fiat–Revelli Modello, 1914.
    • The cost of a Fiat in the U.S. was initially $4,000 and rose to $6,400 in 1918, compared to $825 for a Ford Model Tin 1908, and $525 in 1918, respectively.
    • In 2006 Fiat launched its Motor Village flagship store concept in Turin, Italy.


  • Founded: February 25, 1899
  • Founders: Louis Renault, Marcel Renault, Fernand Renault
  • Headquarters: Boulogne-Billancourt, France
  • Areas served: Worldwide
  • Owner: Groupe Renault 
  • Fun facts:
    • The company produces a range of cars and vans, and in the past has manufactured trucks, tractors, tanks, buses/coaches and auto rail
    • Renault is known for its role in motorsports, particularly rallying, Formula 1and Formula E.
    • Its early work on mathematical curve modeling for car bodies is important in the history of computer graphics.
    • The Renault diamond logo has been through many iterations – the current badge has been in use since 1992.
    • Subsidiaries:
      • Alpin: a French manufacturer of racing and sports cars established in 1955
      • Automobile Dacia from Romania
      • Renault Samsung Motors from South Korea: a South Korean car manufacturer headquartered in Busan where its single assembly site is also located. It was first established as Samsung Motors in 1994 by the chaebol Samsung, with technical assistance from Nissan
      • AvtoVAZ from Russia: formerly known as VAZ (Volzhsky Avtomobilny Zavod); best known for its flagship series of Lada vehicles

Škoda Auto

  • Founded: December 18, 1895
  • Founders: Václav Laurin& Václav Klement
  • Headquarters: Mladá Boleslav, Czech Republic
  • Areas served: Europe, South America, Africa, Middle East, Asia-Pacific
  • Owner: Volkswagen Group 
  • Fun facts:
    • In 2018 total global sales reached 1.25 million units, an increase of 4.4% from the previous year. The operating profit was €1.6 billion in 2017, an increase of 34.6% over the previous year.
    • As of 2017, Škoda’s profit margin was the second highest of all VW Group brands after Porsche.
    • The top markets for Škoda by number of sales are China, Germany, Czech Republic, Great Britain, Poland, Russia, France, Turkey, Italy, and Austria.
    • The company is also involved in motorsports. A special car model broke the Bonneville Speedway world record for the fastest car in the world with an engine up to two liters in August 2011, reaching speeds of 227 mph.
    • In 1923 two different trademarks were registered at the Office for Innovation and Model Registration in Plzeň. The first depicted a winged arrow pointing to the right with five feathers in a circle and the second was a winged arrow with three feathers. The famous winged arrow with three feathers still forms the Škoda logo today. The ŠKODA text was added to the logo in 1936. The arrow represents speed, the wings progress and freedom, the eye precision and the circle unity, completeness, world, and harmony.

Opel Automobile GmbH

  • Founded: January 21, 1862
  • Founders: Adam Opel
  • Headquarters: Rüsselsheim am Main, Hesse, Germany
  • Areas served: Africa Asia, Europe, South America
  • Owner: Groupe PSA 
  • Fun facts:
    • Opel vehicles are sold in the UK under the Vauxhall brand, in Australasia under the Holden brand, and in North America and China under the Buick brand.
    • Opels appeared under their own name in the U.S. from 1958 to 1975, when they were sold through Buick dealers. The best-selling Opel models in the U.S. were the Kadett, Manta, and GT.
    • Opel traces its roots to a sewing machine manufacturer founded by Adam Opel in 1862 in Rüsselsheim am Main. The company began manufacturing bicycles in 1886 and produced its first automobile in 1899.
    • The first Opel logo contained the letters “A” and “O” – the initials of the company’s founder, Adam Opel. The A was in bronze, the O in red. The current logo has changed very little since 1968.
    • Opel’s corporate tagline as of June 2017 is The Future Is Everyone’s (German: Die Zukunft Gehört Allen).


  • Founded: 1897 as a car manufacturer
  • Founders: Ignác Šustala
  • Headquarters: Kopřivnice, Moravia, Czech Republic
  • Areas served: Worldwide
  • Owner: Czechoslovak Group 
  • Fun facts:
    • The second oldest company in the world producing cars with an unbroken history, surpassed only by French automaker Peugeot.
    • The company stopped producing passenger cars in 1999, but still produce a range of primarily all-wheel-drive trucks, from 4×4 to 18×18. The brand is also known as a result of Czech truck racer Karel Loprais: in 1988–2001 he won the off-road race Dakar Rally six times with a Tatra 815.
    • During World War II Tatra was instrumental in the production of trucks and tank engines for the German war effort. Many German officers died in car accidents caused by driving the heavy, rear-engined Tatras around corners faster than they could handle. At the time, as an anecdote, Tatra became known as the “Czech Secret Weapon” for the scores of officers who died behind the wheel; at one point official orders were issued forbidding German officers from driving Tatras.
    • The largest display of Tatra vehicles in the U.S. is at the Lane Motor Museum in Nashville, Tennessee with 12 Tatras on display.
    • Jay Leno is an advocate for the brand and owns a 1938 Tatra T87.



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