Finding, buying, repairing, restoring, and just plain enjoying antique autos is a great hobby. However, learning to classify these older vehicles can be a major chore. Different car groups have differing ideas on what makes a car classic, antique, or vintage, while each state has its own rules for buying, selling, and registering classic and antique cars.
If you are a true lover of antique autos, you know that these are the earliest cars. From the very first vehicle to the beginning of the vintage era of cars, around 1919 or 1920, is the antique era. The very first car is somewhat debatable and depends on what you consider to be a car or automobile. The steam trolley, a small, steam-powered vehicle, was made in 1769. It was self-propelled and could transport people and cargo, so it could very well be designated not just one of the antique autos, but the first true automobile.
What we really know as cars today, though, are those vehicles powered by the internal combustion engine. The first of these types of antique autos were made in Germany by several different people. Their names are famous today: Daimler, Benz, and Maybach. The first real production of cars can be attributed to Karl Benz in 1888.
Just a few years later in the U.S., the very first manufacturer of automobiles, the Duryea Motor Wagon Company started up production. They were soon followed by Olds, Ford, Cadillac, and others. As soon as these antique autos were made, people started racing. Thanks to the need for speed that early car enthusiasts had, innovations in technology, engineering, and safety followed in rapid succession.
Up until the beginning of the vintage era of cars, around the end of World War I, all kinds of experiments were conducted in the race to make better cars. Manufacturers came and went, and those that were meant to last continued to improve their products. Today, these antique autos are highly collectible and valuable to those who want investments as well as those who simply love the cars for what they are.