Are you looking for fun facts about cars? From the history of cars to how many there are in the world, buckle up for these incredible car facts!
Cars are not only a necessity for billions of people around the world, they’re also an obsession for some. It’s estimated that the automotive industry in the US alone is worth $700 billion. That’s mega money!
If you ever wanted to learn more about the world of cars you’ve come to the right place. We’re about to get into 18 fun facts about cars that will really surprise you. With over 250 years of history, there’s lots to choose from.
Do you remember your first car? Was it a hand-me-down from a parent? Or bought at a used car dealership? Maybe you one of the lucky ones who found a car in the driveway with a big red bow on your 16th birthday? Or does that only happen in the movies?
Either way, the freedom and independence a car provides is unmatched.
Is there anything better than cruising down the highway with the windows rolled down and the music turned up?
We absolutely love a good road trip, so we thought these exciting car facts will come in handy for entertaining the driver on those long trips.
From a brief history of cars to the bitter rivalries between car manufacturers, some of these facts are hard to believe. Just wait and see what the world record is for the fastest car!
18 Fun Facts About Cars
1. A brief, brief history of car
The earliest cars were modelled after horse-drawn buggies. The first steam-powered automobile was built by Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot in 1769.
The internal combustion engine, an early electric motor, came around in 1804 from inventor Isaac de Rivas. And in 1887 Carl Benz (we think you’ll recognize this name!) developed the first gasoline-powered automobile.
How’s that for a brief history lesson? Start your engines because we have so many more interesting facts about cars to come.
2. The car goes mainstream
While Benz may have created the first gasoline-powered car, it was Henry Ford who brought the automobile to the masses.
In 1908, Ford used an assembly line to manufacture the Ford Model-T, making it the first mass-produced automobile. The assembly line innovation allowed the price of the Model-T to stay moderate, meaning the middle class could afford their own car.
The Model-T was named the most influential car of the 20th century, and we can see why!
3. The best-selling car in history
The popularity of the Model-T was so immense that over 15 million were sold during its production run from 1908 to 1927.
The Model-T held the record for the best-selling car in history until 1972, when the Volkswagen Beetle surpassed it. Today, the best-selling car in history is the Toyota Corolla, which as of 2021 has sold over 50 million.
4. The first hybrid
Hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) are cars that combine a conventional internal combustion engine with an electric propulsion system to achieve better fuel economy.
A pre-cursor to fully electric vehicles (EVs), the first mass produced HEV was the Toyota Prius in 1997. Today, the Prius remains the world’s best selling hybrid with close to 7 million units sold. We’re not saying all of these are Uber taxis, but at times it feels like it!
5. The future is electric
Here are a few electric car facts to get you through your next road trip. In the US, over 2 million vehicles on the road are battery electric. Worldwide there are about 10 million.
Out of all cars sold in 2020, 5% were electric and it is estimated that around 700 million electric vehicles will be on the road by 2050. Basically, the future is electric. If you want to reduce your carbon footprint and do something for the planet, look into buying an electric car as your next car.
6. The most popular electric car
The Tesla Model 3 became the world’s best-selling electric car in early 2020. In June 2021, it became the first electric car to pass 1 million in global sales.
With the future of our planet relying on the switch to electric vehicles, Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk is likely to remain the richest person in the world for many years to come.
7. A rivalry made in America
Ford and Chevrolet are two of the most recognized car brands in the world, and both companies set their sights on destroying the other.
This rivalry spurred intense cycles of innovation within the automotive industry. In 1928, Chevrolet created a more powerful engine, hurting sales of the Ford Model-T. This secured Chevy’s top-selling spot until the introduction of the Ford Mustang in 1964.
8. Fastest ever speed reached by car
The Guinness Book of World Records lists the fastest land speed by car to be an astounding 1,228 km (763 miles) per hour.
Andy Green set the record in October 1997 in Black Rock Desert, Nevada, in a car appropriately named Thrust SSC. The Thrust SSC is the first car to break the sound barrier. And here we thought 100 mph was fast!
9. The big airbag mistake
We often hear about car recalls, be it the Ford cruise control recall of 1996 or the Toyota power switch recall of 2015.
However, the largest and most disastrous recall in automotive history was the Takata airbag. Takata Corporation provided faulty airbags to 19 different automakers, resulting in a staggering 42 million vehicles recalled.
The problem: airbags inflated improperly, sending shrapnel into the car. There have been 15 deaths in the US related to this airbag.
10. That’s a lot of cars!
Volkswagen Germany is the largest car-making manufacturing plant in the world.
The factory, located in Wolfsburg, Germany, covers a mind-boggling 70 million square feet and produces upwards of 4,000 vehicles per day. The Volkswagen models manufactured in Wolfsburg include the Golf, Touran and Tiguan.
11. The nation full of classic cars
Most American cars manufactured in the 1940s and 1950s have been discarded or stripped for parts. But the island nation of Cuba still uses these cars today.
With the Cuban revolution of 1959, imports from the US stopped and cars and parts were no longer flowing in. The industrious Cubans, using parts imported from the Soviet Union, kept these cars running, with over 50% of the cars registered in 1956 still operating today.
For us, this is one of our favorite fun facts about cars, but maybe that’s because we love Cuba too!
12. You put what in your engine?
While most people know about gasoline and diesel, cars have also been built to run on some very strange fuel sources.
In 2010, a 1988 Volkswagen known as the “Carpuccino” completed a 338 km road trip fuelled entirely by coffee granules. Other strange fuel sources include hemp, algae, garbage, elephant dung and chocolate.
13. Turn on the wipers!
Here is one of the most interesting car facts: Before 1905 cars didn’t have windshield wipers! A driver would have to repeatedly pull off to the side and wipe the glass clean with a cloth.
It was Mary Anderson of New York who invented the first wiper with a mechanical lever set near the steering wheel to activate it. In 1919, William Folberth would go the extra step, creating the first vacuum-powered automatic wiper.
14. We’ve come to see the cars
The Schlumpf collection also known as La cité de l’automobile, in Mulhouse, France is the largest automotive museum in the world.
The museum began as a secret collection by the Schlumpf brothers of Switzerland who were obsessed with the German/French carmaker Bugatti. The museum now includes the largest collection of Bugattis with over 100 individual vehicles.
15. Size doesn’t matter
While many people prefer large vehicles with tremendous power, others look for smaller vehicles that are fuel-efficient and easily maneuverable for city driving.
Currently, the Chevrolet Spark is the smallest car on the market with a total length of 11 feet 11 inches! An electric vehicle model of the Spark is also available.
Some of the other world’s smallest cars include, the Mini Cooper, Mitsubishi Mirage and Kia Rio.
16. Roll down your window!
Can you feel the breeze through your hair?
It was in 1940 that the first power window came onto the market. The first car to say goodbye to the crank was the 1940 Packard 180 series. The same power assist technology for power windows was also used in automatic roof retraction for convertibles.
17. Drive your car into a lake
Amphibious vehicles are able to transition from the road to the water seamlessly, turning a car into a boat in a matter of seconds! The name amphibious is derived from the animal kingdom, where amphibians, like frogs and newts, can live on land or water.
Once used in the logging industry of North America, amphibious vehicles today are mainly used in coastal towns offering city tours by land and sea.
18. Sit back and relax
The self-driving car is no longer a far-fetched concept, but a reality of how we’ll get around in the future.
Many high-level tests of autonomous vehicles have been completed in recent years, including at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Village. As the technology gets tested more vigorously, we will start to see more of these vehicles on the road.
Get ready to do a double-take when you see a car speed by without a driver!
Who wants more fun facts?
If you’re looking for some recommendations, these are a few of our favorite fact books to buy. We use these when planning fun trivia nights with family and friends!
What was your favorite fun fact about cars here?
If you’ve got any other facts you think we missed, let us know in the comments below and we’ll add it to our car facts!