If you are interested in automobiles, and we think that you are (since you are reading this article), you must be aware about the history of the cars. We all know Karl Benz was the person responsible for giving us easy to use personal cars and Henry Ford made cars ubiquitous by manufacturing them on assembling line and hence making them affordable.
And then there are few companies that you might never have guessed are among the oldest car manufacturers in the world (as old as 100 years)! Here's a list of 5 car companies who have crossed their centenary and are older than you think -
Opel started as their humble operations in Germany way back in 1863 by manufacturing sewing machines. They eventually moved to cycles before taking up car manufacturing in 1899. While Opel knew how to build cars themselves, they followed a more traditional approach and partnered with Darracq, the French carriage manufacturer to make car with them.
The first car rolled out in 1902 at the Hamburg Motor Show and within 10 years, Opel became the single largest car manufacturer in Germany. While the company received a set-back when their whole plant was destroyed in a fire, it didn't stopped them from becoming the largest car manufacturer in the whole Europe by 1930 (this of course with the help of GM).
Fabbrica Italiana Automobili Torino, or Fiat as it is known as, was founded in 1899. While most of the automobile companies in that era were started by dreamers, engineers or families, Fiat came out as an exception. Fiat was envisioned by a board of directors, who were looking to bring out the Italian aesthetics through cars.
Incidentally, Fiat which is an acronym, also means 'Let it be done' in Latin. Fiat Group is one of the largest automobile conglomerate in Europe with brands like Jeep and Chrysler under its umbrella. In India though, they didn't had a successful time. Their first stint was impacted by the arrival of new and cheaper vehicles by Maruti and Tata. Their re-entry with Tata proved fatal and now they are gaining their image back by launching brands like Abarth and Jeep in the country.
Peugeot, the popular French manufacturer goes way, way, way back as a French family started the business in 1810. While they started with a grain mill and later steel foundry, it was not until 1891 they manufactured an automobile. The first car they manufacturer was christened as 'Type 3' and was manufactured in a same room where bicycles were built.
Yes, Peugeot did forayed into number of businesses before the car division finally got its own plant in 1897. Just so you know, the first type 3 casually moved behind the Paris-Brest-Paris bike race to prove its mettle over 2045 km. And we are still waiting for the French guys to come in our country and start selling their cars, mostly hatchbacks.
Yes, Renault is relatively new to India and yes, it is famous for its CEO Carlos Ghosn more than its cars, but Renault is no amateur in this game. Renault was started in France in 1898 by Renault brothers, who brought speed into the business. What they essentially did is promote their car by racing in it, as they were young and saw racing as a credible promotional tool.
The little one-seater car, known as voiturettes soon become famous and this strategy of racing in a car to promote the brand was soon adopted by almost all manufacturers. Sadly, Marcel Renault died in a crash during a race in 1903, but his legacy continues. As far as India goes, Renault has made it own space in India now with the success of Duster and Kwid.
Let us confess to you first - we have a special kind of attraction towards the Aston Martin. The company was formed in 1913 by Robert Bamford and Lionel Martin and was known as Bamford and Martin. In 1914, Martin raced in the prestigious Aston Hill Climb, where one has to reach the steep hill in the fastest time and Brits loved it.
Soon Aston Martin came into existence but it became famous only in 1965 when James Bond (yes, we can sense you smiling) drove the silver DB5 sporting all the deadly gizmos. This particular Aston was sold for $4.4 million in 2010 and James Bond never chose any other car apart from the Astons. And no, Astons have surpassed the Bond's car image and are a known luxury sports car manufacturer now.