European engineers were thinking about four-wheeled mobility as far back as the late 1700s, when they first began to tinker with powered vehicles. Steam, combustion and electrical power all had their day in the 19th century, but it took pioneers like Henry Ford, Ransom Olds, the Duryea brothers , Gottlieb Daimler, Wilhelm Maybach and Nikolaus Otto to bring the internal combustion engine to fruition. The French were manufacturing cars on a commercial scale by 1890, and the 1901 Mercedes is likely the first modern automobile ever produced. Don`t forget to look into official site to find additional info. The Mercedes featured a 35-horsepower engine and a top speed of 53 mph; by contrast, Ransom Olds’ 1901 model had a three-horsepower engine and tiller-style steering, making it little more than a horse buggy with an engine.

As the century wore on, American companies had an advantage in pricing and the economy of scale, but European automakers were making far greater technical advances. Things like the boxer engine, the supercharger, the diesel engine, independent rear suspension and much, much more all had their origins in European automotive engineering.

In time, European manufacturers adopted American-style production ideas from Ford and General Motors, enabling them to compete on a global scale with larger production numbers and more advanced manufacturing methods. The result, especially in the post-WWII era, was distinctive-looking cars from manufacturers like BMW, Ferrari and Benz and designers like Karmann, Giorgetto Giugiaro and Ercole Spada.

Under the skin, European cars were advanced pieces of machinery, building on experience gained on the racing circuit. By the 1960s and 70s, European automakers were turning out sophisticated, high-performance cars for the world market.

Today, the world has shrunk considerably and the market has become a truly global one. Manufacturers like Benz and VW have set up factories around the world, including the United States, and supply chains stretch around the planet. Cars that range from pedestrian to exotic, from utilitarian to all-out luxurious, are all available from European automakers, and at a level of quality and engineering that’s unheard of. These are truly the golden days of the European auto industry!

European Automotive Infographic

Click to enlarge

European Automotive



In 1672
Automotive engineering began with Father Ferdinand Verbiest A Flemish Jesuit missionary. Invented a steam-powered vehicle for the Emperor of China as a toy.

In the 18th Century
First car to carry humans invented by French inventor, Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot had a three wheel design as well as an experimental steam tractor. Design was deemed too impractical and his invention was dismissed.

Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot
Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot is widely credited with building the first full-scale, self-propelled mechanical vehicle or automobile. In about 1769, he created a steam-powered tricycle.

In 1784
Scottish engineer, William Murdoch built a steam powered carriage in Redruth.

In 1808
First automobile that was powered by a combustible engine was built by Swiss-French Francois Isaac de Rivaz. There were many issues with the automobile leading to it being scrapped. It was powered by Oxygen and Hydrogen, two dangerous fuels.

In 1881
The first electric car was built by Gustave Trouve, a French inventor. Succeeded in building effective automotive using electricity to power it.

Biggest economical and social impact of the automobile is in the United State Perfected in Europe by Germany and France To this day, Germany remains a leading exporter of automobiles


A French engineer and the first person to place the engine in the front of the vehicle. This became the Systeme Panhard and has become the standard for all cars.

A German inventor – contributed greatly to the engine design of automobiles Built an effective gas motor engine and the first practical four-stroke internal combustion engine which he called the “Otto Cycle Engine.” He integrated in into a motorcycle.

A German engineer and industrial designer. In 1885, Daimler and his design partner, Wilhelm Maybach, used Nikolaus Otto’s internal combustion engine and took it a step forward to create what will be the prototype of the modern gas engine. On March 8, 1886, Daimler took a stagecoach and made it to hold his engine, making the first four-wheeled automobile. In 1889, Daimler and Maybach built their first automobile with a four-speed transmission and with a speed of 10 mph.

A German mechanical engineer who invented the first gasoline car, a three wheeler. He designed and built the first practical automobile that is powered by an internal combustion engine. In 1900, his company, Benz & Company, became the world’s largest manufacturer of automobiles. Years after they merged their companies into a single entity called The Daimler-Benz Company and to this day, we still see their legacy, the Mercedes-Benz.


In the 20th Century
The U.S. began to emerge as a manufacturing power in the automobile industry.

In 1893
J. Frank and Charles A. Duryea bicycle mechanics, designed the first successful American automobile powered by gasoline in Springfield, Massachusetts.

In 1895
They won the first American automobile race.

In 1899
2,500 motor vehicles were produced by thirty American manufacturers.

485 companies entered the automobile industry. The American automotive manufacturing sector was larger than that of Europe’s.

In 1913
About 480,000 of the total 606,124 motor vehicles in the world were produced by the United States.

A former machinist, completed his Quadricycle, a light metal frame with four bicycle wheels powered by a two-cylinder, four horsepower gasoline engine. He sold his Quadricycle so that he could build more vehicles. “Model T” Became an instant success. He practiced and developed mass production techniques which revolutionized the American industry. He would stop the production of the Model T and introduce a new product, Model A, a highly improved motor vehicle.

The automotive industry played a critical role in manufacturing military vehicles and other products unrelated to the traditional automotive industry. Car designs became heavier, longer, more powerful and more expensive. The wars caused a downward spiral in the automotive business and there was deterioration in automobile quality. As decades passed, the American automotive industry began to rely more on imports.

In 1980
Japan became the world’s leading automotive manufacturer. Today, Germany is the world leader in the automotive industry.

Call Now!

"We are adjusting our business hours and will now be open from 7:00am - 6:00pm Monday - Thursday. We will be closed Friday - Sunday.

Thank you for Choosing Mark Douglas Motorworks. We look forward to serving you. "