Which car brands are still going strong after 100 years?
According to various sources, the car you drive is, statistically, around seven-and-a-half years old. There’s a good chance it’s a little older, but unless you’re still driving around in a vintage Kukushka or Wenkelmobile – you brave, brave soul – the oldest thing about your car is probably the logo. A number of car brands available in the UK today can trace their history back over 100 years, so here are seven of the most popular and well-known. It must be noted, however, that some 100 year old brands have been left out for various reasons - Lancia, for example is no longer sold in Britain, Rolls-Royce went into liquidation before re-emerging and BMW just misses out as it did not create cars until the 1920s.
The first of the lot, Peugeot started out in 1810 as a family business selling coffee mills and bicycles. In 1889, they turned their attention to automobiles, building a few dodgy-sounding steam tricycles before finding more success in the years after with four-wheeled, petrol-powered cars. Who’d have thought that would catch on?
Peugeot Type 2
When Louis, Marcel and Fernand Renault created the Renault corporation in 1899, they set in motion the company that would win the world’s first Grand Prix motor race, build the first Rolls-Royce aircraft engines and create the revolutionary FT17 tank, and all before Renault had turned 20. The company now produces over 3 million cars per year, so they seem to still be doing ok.
Renault Type D Serie B Voiturette 1901 Lars-Gören Lindgren, Sweden
Founded in the last summer of the 1800s, Fiat became a force to be reckoned with for much of the next century. By the early 1920s, 80% of all cars sold in Italy were Fiats, and for decades after WWII the company was the largest car manufacturer in Europe. Things went downhill in the 1990s, but recent models like the Fiat 500 have helped restore some of Fiat’s pride (and profits).
Fiat 28-40hp Cabriolet-Royal 1908
Into the 20th century now and straight onto Vauxhall Motors. Set up in 1903, the company’s first car had no recognisable name and no reverse gear, but 70 were sold and sales shot up from there. Vauxhall enjoyed plenty of pre-war success with models like the A-Type, but the company ended up moving away from its luxury roots towards more commercial vehicles. We still love Vauxhall, as they’re the second best-selling car brand in the UK, behind only…
Henry Ford’s first attempt at setting up a car company inadvertently led to the creation of Cadillac Motor Company, but it was his second go in 1903 that cemented his name as one of the most famous in the world. From the revolutionary Model T to the ever-popular Fiesta (change to ever-popular F-Series for readers over in the States), the Detroit-based company has had arguably more consistent commercial success over the past century than any other car brand.
1921 Ford Model T Touring 2. Credit: I, Lglswe
With their stunning designs and reputation for racing success, Alfa’s have been provoking passion in car enthusiasts since 1910. Unfortunately, the brand is also about as well-known known for poor build quality, with their cars nowhere near the polished perfection of similar Japanese or German models. Alfa fans don’t care though, and a certain Henry Ford seemed to agree, once stating, “When I see an Alfa Romeo go by, I tip my hat.”
Like many historic British car brands, Aston Martin has had a very troubled past. Founded in 1913, it took until the 1950s for people to really start to notice. Their original and much-loved DB models peaked with the DB5’s ascent into pop culture immortality alongside Sean Connery in the first Bond films. The next few decades were rough for the brand, but not even (several) bankruptcies could finish it off for good and just like its famous, martini-drinking driver, what didn’t kill it only made it stronger.
Aston Martin DB5. Credit: pyntofmyld
by Andrew Shaw at 12 Feb 2018, 00:00 AM