14 Inspirational Quotes from Auto Inventors

Written by Carly Hallman

There are people who envision the future and then make it a reality. They’ve engineered solutions, crafted new options, and built the tools we need to get around every day. But if you look at these famous automotive quotes about innovation and invention from the titans of the industry, you can see that many of them had to struggle and battle obstacles.

Driving Through Failures on the Road to Success

Some of them have stories that are quite interesting. Even though they span more than a hundred years, these inspirational car quotes all were inspired by fairly similar stories:

14 Quotes from Famous Auto Inventors Infographic

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14 Inspirational Quotes from Auto Inventors, Innovators, and Tycoons

Quotes Inventors Brief Description
“The best or nothing at all …” Gottlieb Daimler Formed the Daimler Motoren Gesellschaft (DMG) corporation
“The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.” Henry Ford Brought cars to the masses
“If one does not fail at times, then one has not challenged himself.” Ferdinand Porsche Founded a car company and invented the first gas-electric hybrid car
“Do every job you’re in like you’re going to do it for the rest of your life, and demonstrate that ownership of it.” Mary Barra CEO of GM
“My first customer was a lunatic. My second had a death wish.” Karl Benz Invented the first practical motorcar
“I have been branded with folly and madness for attempting what the world calls impossibilities.” Richard Trevithick Developed the first high-pressure steam engines
“When something is important enough, you do it, even if the odds are not in your favor.” Elon Musk Co-founded Telsa Motors and now serves as its CEO
“Fear is the disease. Hustle is the antidote.” Travis Kalanick Co-founded the Uber app
“Before you say you can’t do something, try it.” Sakichi Toyoda Founded Toyota Industries Company and revolutionized the auto industry in Japan
“The secret to success is to do the common things uncommonly well.” John D. Rockefeller Founded the Standard Oil Company and was known as America’s oil tycoon
“Mediocrity is not worth the trip.” Sergio Marchionne Currently serves as the CEO of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Ferrari
“The failure is the man who stays down when he falls.” David Dunbar Buick Founded the Buick Motor Company and developed the overhead valve engine
“If you can be the best, then why not try to be the best?” Garrett Morgan Invented the traffic signal (among many other things)
“If you can dream it, you can do it.” Enzo Ferrari Founded the Ferrari automobile brand

Henry Ford’s first company went out of business. So did his second. So did his third.

He finally struck gold with the Ford Motor Company in 1903. The entrepreneur quotes failure as being one of his best teachers.

  • Elon Musk, of Tesla fame, didn’t manage to land a job at Netscape. After not getting a response, he supposedly sat in the lobby and was too shy to speak to anyone.
  • The king of Japanese industrialization, Sakichi Toyota, became a success because he studied failure. His method, called “the five whys,” is still used to help find the source of a problem.
  • David Buick died before his brand experienced true success. He had numerous failed inventions and business ventures under his belt when he died of colon cancer in 1929, completely broke.
  • Enzo Ferrari almost died from a flu epidemic, had his family’s business collapse, and didn’t even get a job as a test driver. He later became the stuff of legend as a racecar driver.
  • Garrett Morgan witnessed a horrible accident at an intersection. It changed his life. Though he’s more famous for bringing us the “safety hood,” which later became the gas mask, he gave us that third position between “stop” and “go” that saves lives everyday.

But it’s not just early brushes with failure that have helped these car inventors and business gurus get ahead; they also had unrepentant optimism. Famous car inventor quotes are littered with these ideals. While having one foot in the real world, these titans pushed for positivity. Few people can put together extreme honesty and extreme optimism without losing hope.

Do Good For the World

Of course, others besides these giants have paved the road for the car industry to have such a strong impact on our lives. Completing the thankless job of making small innovations and popularizing vehicles were these less-vocal do-gooders:

  • The first road trip was completed by a woman. Bertha Benz, the mother of all car marketing, helped her husband popularize the first motorcar by going off on a 120-mile trip with her two sons, fixing the vehicle by herself along the way.
  • Many car innovators have given out their patents for free, for the betterment of mankind. One of the most famous giveaways was from the inventor of the three-point seat belt: Nils Bohlin. Thank you!
  • Forgotten brands like Studebaker and Saab had numerous contributions to the industry. The Studebakers even entered the market with an electric car in 1902, for instance.

So no matter what sort of business venture you as an entrepreneur are trying out, remember to be brutally honest, relentlessly optimistic, and thankful to the quiet marketers, engineers, and inventors only looking to do good works.


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