With Oldsmobile gone (in 2004), Cadillac is now the USA’s oldest car marker, established in 1902, just one year ahead of its General Motors cousin Buick, plus the Ford Motor Company. Just like Oldsmobile, none of America’s other 19th Century car brands have survived, with Packard lasting the longest (from 1899 to 1958), followed by steam car specialists Stanley (1897 to 1927), Winton (also 1897 to 1927), Locomobile USA (1899-1920) and Duryea (1893-1916).
Closer to home, the respected Belgian make Minerva lasted from 1899 to 1939, with a revival of the marque imminent, now being reinvented as a supercar brand. Austro-Daimler lived from 1899 to 1936, and over the border the German luxury Horch brand lasted from 1898 until 1940.
France led the way in the pioneering days of motoring by some margin though, introducing the then-new sport of motor racing, with the more vehicle manufacturers than the rest of Europe combined. Household names such as De Dion Bouton (1883 to 1932), Panhard (1890 to 1967), Delahaye (1894 to 1954) and Darracq (1896 to 1920) really helped put motoring on the map, with lesser Gallic makes such as Leon Bollee (1895 to 1933), Mors (1895 to 1925) and Berliet (1895 to 1939, but with truck production continuing on into the 1970s) also making a useful contribution.
As the world’s longest-established original car maker, marking its 125th anniversary since the production of its first motor car this year, it is only fitting that the oldest car on the Cartier lawn later this month at the Festival of Speed will be a Peugeot, an 1894 Type 3 vis-à-vis four model, powered by a Panhard et Levassor V Twin motor.
This fine French machine will contrast beautifully with the prestigious Rolls-Royces, innovative Lancias and exotic Lamborghinis all set to share space on the Cartier lawn, along with some stunning 1920s Vauxhall 30/98s, sporting Alpine-Renaults and exquisite English coachbuilt GTs, powered by snarling American V8 motors. I for one can’t wait to see all of these fine machines, and in particular, pay my respects to the 19th Century pioneers of motoring. Before that though, I just need to write 150 words about each car, with Wikipedia offering little help at all for most of these late 1800s pioneers!