Cars are a huge part of our daily lives and have been for many years. We rely on them to get about, we watch them race on television, and we have favourite makes and models – but how much do you really know about them?

Whether you want to impress your friends or brush up on your automobile knowledge, we’ve compiled 10 of the most interesting facts about cars that you probably didn’t know.


Facts From History

1 – The World’s First Car

The first automobile in the world was called the ‘Benz Patent Motorwagen’, and was developed by Karl Benz, a German mechanical engineer. In 1885 he created a three-wheel automobile that ran on a single-cylinder four-stroke engine, which was installed horizontally on the chassis. There were 25 of them sold between 1886 and 1893 and reached a top speed of six miles per hour – which is not much faster than a walking pace.

Steam-powered vehicles were developed as early as 1672, so it took many years to develop into the first ‘car’ as we know them today.


2 – The World’s First Road Trip

Bertha Benz, Karl Benz’s wife and later business partner, was the first person to take a ‘road trip’. On August 5th, 1888, she drove herself and the couple’s two sons 65 miles in the Patent Motorwagen, from Mannheim to Pforzheim, Germany. The trip was to visit her mother, but she also had the motive of proving to her husband that his constructions had a future and would ultimately end up revolutionising the world.

The journey wasn’t an easy one – the car only had two gears, so the car had to be pushed up several steep hills and the wooden brakes failed, so Bertha had to visit a cobbler to buy leather, which resulted in the world’s first brake linings. The drive is considered a key event in the technical development of the automobile.


3 – The World’s First Fatal Car Accident

The first recorded death by automobile actually came before Benz’s invention. Sadly, Irish scientist Mary Ward was killed when she was run over by an experimental steam car in 1869. Her cousins had built a steam-powered vehicle in which they were taking Mary and her husband for a journey. Mary was thrown from the car whilst travelling around a bend and fell underneath the wheels, breaking her neck.

The car was destroyed after the crash, and she goes down in history as the first person to be killed in a car accident.


Let’s Talk Numbers

4 – The Highest Mileage

According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the highest recorded mileage for a single car is an incredible 3.25 million miles – This is the equivalent of driving around the world roughly 130 times. The car was a 1966 Volvo P 1800 S, owned by New Yorker Irv Gordon.

Gordon claims the secret to his car’s longevity was regular oil changes and closely following the Volvo maintenance guidelines. He became a promotional partner for Castrol oil, which he claimed was the only brand of motor oil he’d ever used. The Volvo was retired in 2018 when Gordon sadly passed away.


5 – The Best-Selling Car

The Toyota Corolla has been credited with being the world’s most commonly sold car, having reached its 50 millionth sale in 2021. It took the title from the Volkswagen Beetle in 1997.

The car was first introduced in 1966 by the Japanese manufacturer Toyota, and it is estimated that a new one is sold every 15 seconds. It is sold in over 150 different countries around the world and spans twelve generations of models.


6 – The Highest Speeding Fine

The highest recorded speeding fine comes in at an eyewatering €650,000 – the equivalent of one million US Dollars. The fine was issued to a Swedish man behind the wheel of a Mercedes-Benz SLR whilst he was driving in Switzerland in 2010.

The speed demon was caught travelling at a dangerously excessive 186 miles per hour. The price of the ticket came down to the man’s wealth, as in Switzerland speeding tickets are calculated depending on your income – hopefully it was still enough to teach him a lesson.


7 – The World’s Longest Car

The world’s longest car measures a whopping 100ft – just over 30 meters long. The car is nicknamed ‘The American Dream’ and was first built in 1986 by Jay Ohrberg, based on the 1976 Cadillac Eldorado limousine. To put into perspective how long the car is, you could park twelve Smart Fortwo cars in a horizontal line and The American Dream would still be longer.

The car was built in two sections, with a hinge in the middle for turning corners, and is fitted with a swimming pool, jacuzzi, and mini golf course. More impressively, it has a helipad that can hold a helicopter weighing as much as 5000lbs, and seats 75 people!


Facts That Sound Like Fiction

8 – A Formula One Car Could Drive Upside Down  

Reminiscent of the Hot Wheels tracks we played with as children, a modern Formula One car can drive upside down in a tunnel. The car can generate 3.5g of lateral cornering force, which is three and a half times its own weight. Due to aerodynamic downforce, if the car was travelling fast enough, it hypothetically would be able to drive upside down.

It hasn’t been done yet, but we would absolutely love to see it!


9 – It Would Take 6 Months To Drive To The Moon

This interesting fact was worked out using basic mathematics. Astronomer Fred Hoyle discovered if you drove upwards at 95kh/h, you would reach the moon in just one hour. The moon is 384,400 km away from earth – ten times the circumference of the earth. So, this works out that a road trip to the moon would take you just under six months.


10 – In Russia It Is Illegal To Drive A Dirty Car

Most driving fines come from speeding or parking somewhere you shouldn’t, but in Russia, you can actually be fined for not washing your car. If the police stop you and fine you 500 Rubles, equivalent to £7.11, on the spot.

The actual law states that a fine may be issued if the number plate is so dirty that it obscures the registration number, but some immoral police officers have been known to charge fines to anyone who’s car isn’t squeaky clean. In case that has reminded you that you need to wash your car, have a read of our how-to guide.  

If you enjoyed learning a bit more about cars, why not give 10 Spooky Vehicles You Wouldn’t Want To Own a read? Don’t forget to let us know any of your own interesting car facts in the comments!