Fun Car Facts for Kids

Written by Carly Hallman

People began tackling the challenge of a self-propelled vehicle as early as the 1300s, when inventors tried to use the wind to make cars go. The first car designs used steam, electricity, and gasoline to power them. Inventors worked hard to create cars that would travel long distances without stopping, while also being simple enough for people to operate. In 1769, Nicholas Joseph Cugnot designed the first self-propelled vehicle, but it actually had only three wheels. In 1885 in Germany, Karl Benz designed the first gas-powered car, and it also had only three wheels. In America, Henry Ford was working on his car inventions, too, with his first car design coming out in 1896.

Inventors realized that gasoline-powered engines were safer and more reliable than steam engines, so their focus switched to creating cars fueled by gasoline. Slowly, cars became more reliable and less expensive, so average people could afford to own them. Today, life moves at a much faster pace, and cars have been a driving force behind that. About 1 billion cars travel all over the world today, with more added to this number every day. People have even worked to make cars go faster and faster, setting records for top speeds. The car at the top of the fastest car list for 2014 was the Hennessey Venom GT, which could go as fast as 270 miles per hour. This car sells for $1,000,000 or more.

  1. Car Facts for Kids: Explore the history of cars and learn interesting facts about vehicles on this page.
  2. How Do Car Engines Work? (video): Watch this video to learn about how engines work to make a car move.
  3. Early Cars: Fact Sheet for Children: The first cars designed ran on steam instead of gas, but this didn’t always work very well.
  4. All About NASCAR: Learn about the history of stock-car racing on this page.
  5. Henry Ford: Henry Ford designed the first Model T car in 1908, which was released by the Ford Motor Company.
  6. Who Invented the Car?: Karl Benz from Germany invented the first car with a gasoline-powered engine in 1886.
  7. Testing a Self-Driving Car: Google is hard at work on creating a car that doesn’t even need a driver: It can drive itself!
  8. The History of the Automobile: Electric-powered cars were one type designed in the 1800s, but weak batteries at the time limited how fast and far these cars could travel.
  9. Automotive History: Bicycles were the first step toward self-propelled vehicles, as inventors studied how they could make a bicycle-type contraption that would move all by itself.
  10. The Showroom of Automotive History: Henry Ford designed the quadricycle in 1896, a vehicle that was powered by gasoline and had four bicycle tires.
  11. History of the Ford Motor Company: Henry Ford experimented with many different types of vehicle designs as he worked to make a self-propelled car.
  12. The Invention of the Electric Motor 1800-54: Many different inventors worked to design electric motors during the 19th century.
  13. Timeline: History of the Electric Car: An inventor designed a small electric train in 1835, which was considered to be the first electric vehicle.
  14. The History of the Electric Car: Learn how electric cars were developed, starting 100 years ago and continuing today.
  15. Two Billion Cars: Transforming a Culture: In 2008, experts estimated that the planet had a billion cars, and they expect this number to double over the next 20 years.
  16. Henry Ford Changes the World, 1908: In the beginning, only the rich people could afford to have cars. Cars were complicated to drive, so chauffeurs usually were hired to drive them for people.
  17. Pedal to the Metal: A History of Cars and Speed: Car racing began in the United States in 1895. The first cars in a race went at only 7.5 miles per hour.
  18. Who Invented the Automobile? German Karl Benz holds the title of being the first car inventor, but many other inventors have also worked on car designs.
  19. Children’s Question Room: Cars were introduced in Japan in the early 1900s, and inventors then began working on new car designs in Japan after this time.
  20. A Kid’s Introduction to the Model T Ford: Before 1909, only wealthy people could afford to have cars. With the release of the Model T car, making cars became cheaper, so the prices of them could be lower and average people could afford to buy a car.