The Origin of Five World-Class Car Manufacturers

Posted by  | November 06, 2013 | 
Ghostwritten by Elliot Chan. Formerly published in
Ferruccio-at-Tractor-Factory-1968The automotive origin can be traced back to the 18th century, so is it fair that we now treat it like ancient history? Modern ingenuity has changed the way we perceive the world—what was once considered revolutionary; today it’s just the norm. Cars, vehicles, horseless carriages or whatever else you called it were one of those groundbreaking leaps that people today take for granted. But the dawn of automobiles is a story worth revisiting. How did these big car manufacturers come to be? What can the history of our cars tell us about the history of the world at large?


Since arriving to Canada in 1969, Honda had been one of the leading choices for Canadian commuters, with the Civic being one of the best selling cars for 15 years.

Soichiro Honda, an automotive enthusiast, founded the automobile and motorcycle company in 1948, but that was not how he started out. Honda initially founded Tokai Seiki, a machine company, that eventually helped produce piston rings for Toyota. In 1944 during WWII, US B-29 bomber destroyed Tokai Seiki’s Yamashita plant and in 1945 the plant in Itawa fell due to an earthquake—Honda decided to sell the remains to Toyota for 450,000 yen and developed the Honda Technical Research Institution in 1946.

From there, with only 12 staff members, Honda began to attract customers by enabling them to attach an engine onto their bikes, thus creating their first motorbike model, the Honda Model A—also known as the Bata Bata. In years to come, Honda will increase their production line by hundredfolds.


In Sweden, Saab is not only a car manufacturer, but they are also the aerospace and defence company—Svenska Aeroplane Aktiebolaget, which means Swedish Aeroplane Corporation.

For a while Saab was flourishing in Canada peaking in 2006 with 2,640 sold. Although Saab had recent turmoil due to General Motor’s financial state, the brand will return to European owners, a Swedish sports car company named Koenigsegg Group.

The Scandinavian automobile company has gone through many identities since it was established in 1937. Built initially to design aircrafts for the Swedish Air Force during WWII—the company found that due to the country’s neutral stance, automotive was a better alterative than fighter planes.

In 1947, the first commercial automobile model, Ursaab, hit the road. From there Saab was fueled by their unconventional way of developing products.


01 FORD 8x10 1Ford remains one of the top choices for Canadians selling 275,953 in 2012. But they weren’t always recognized for their rugged reliable machines—in July 1903, Dr. Ernst Pfenning, a dentist, boughtthe first Ford Model A. It was vehicle far from tough Ford image; after all, it only reached maximum speeds of 30 miles per hour. And for $850 it was considered very affordable.

The Ford Motor Company went through many different orientations before becoming the well-known motor company it is today. In 1901 it was known as the Henry Ford Company, in 1902 it changed its name to Cadillac Motor Company and finally in 1903 it settled as The Ford Motor Company.

Henry Ford became the founder of one of the largest family-controlled companies in the world and the tradition continues to this day. While many large companies folded during the Great Depression, Ford powered through, proving that although they didn’t start with a rugged exterior and a powerful engine, they were destined for toughness.


Ferruccio Lamborghini was always a fan of Ferraris, but always considered them too loud and aggressive to be a conventional car on the road.

After serving in WWII as a mechanic, Lamborghini went on to start a business building tractors. That was the initial start of his sports car business, but it wasn’t until 1963, did Lamborghini Automobiliwas officially established.

Because of Lamborghini’s fortune, he was able to cultivate many luxury vehicles during his life, even if he was just a tractor manufacturer. During the mid 50s, he found that the clutch to his Ferrari was broken; he decided to replace it with one from his tractor and discovered that it was the same. When he approached Enzo Ferrari—Ferrari told him he knew nothing about sports cars, perhaps that sparked a new pursuit and a rivalry.

Lamborghini still remains an extravagant form of transportation for Canadians today. With so many models noted as the most expensive vehicles in the world—what began, as a dream of tractor company owner is now a highly touted pristine automobile.


hitler-mercedesWar had been a common theme for automobile innovation and most of us already know the history of Mercedes-Benz. Often considered to be a trophy for Adolf Hitler, Mercedes-Benz has survived the dark history to become a prestigious vehicle of choice for many.

In Canada, Mercedes-Benz is one of the most revered automobiles on the road. With 35,503 units sold in 2012 the manufacturer is reaching many milestones.

The first milestone for Mercedes-Benz and automobile in general, began with Karl Benz and his first petrol-powered car in 1886. It was named the Benz Patent-Motorwagen. Although there have been attempts at automobiles before, Benz’s creation is commonly referred to as the first automobile ever.

Even though the brand is associated with a dark moment in history, Mercedes-Benz did introduced many technological and safety innovation and is continuing to create trends both in popular culture, fashion and of course automotives.

The German car company has been around for over a hundred years will still be around for many more—and only time will tell what will happen to all the other automobile manufacturers as they compete for a spot in our garage and on the road.

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