Charles and Frank Duryea's first American car (below) in 1896 and the Benz car in 1886 (right)>
When my pal Barack Obama talked the other night about saving carmakers "in the country that invented the automobile" he may have stretched the truth a bit, depending on whom you ask.
Everyday Mysteries, a good Web site that answers questions believeably, says the car "dates to the 15th Century when Leonardo da Vinci was creating designs and models for transport vehicles." But, it says, "If we had to give credit to one inventor, it would probably be Karl Benz from Germany. Many suggest that he created the first true automobile in 1885-1886."
EM says the first steamer came in 1769 in France; the first electric in 1832-1839 in Scotland; Benz's three-wheel, four-cycle gas-powered model as mentioned; Gottlieb Wilhelm Daimler's gas engine in Germany in 1886; George Baldwin Selden's gas-powered car patented, but never built, in 1895 in the U.S.; Charles Edgar Duryea and his brother, Frank's four horsepower, two stroke engine American car in 1893, which was, indeed, built.
The Duryea brothers, like the Wright Brothers, who invented the airplane 10 years later, were bicycle builders. They built and tested their motorized buggy in Springfield, Mass., and that evolved into the Duryea Motor Wagon Company in 1896. They produced cars until the 1920s.