Can You Ace This Quiz About American Car Manufacturers Without Googling?



By: Robin Tyler

6 Min Quiz

Image: Monty Rakusen / Cultura / Getty Images

About This Quiz

Since its inception just before the start of the 20th century, the American car industry has been a powerhouse. Not only to the country's local economy but worldwide as well.

It's given us brands that have become household names. Some have even managed to divide households ... Think a Ford family member versus a Chevrolet family member! The American motor industry's rich and varied history is filled with tales of huge successes and massive failures.

But just how much do you know about American car manufacturers and the industry in which they work? Did you know that the first car made in this country was by a company that many people have never heard of? Also, did you know that a few years after forming the company, Henry Ford was prepared to sell the Ford Motor Company to General Motors? The deal only fell through because William C. Durant, the man behind General Motors, saw his financial backers pull out.

These are just some of the amazing facts about a vibrant industry that, despite some tough periods, continues to thrive! But onto the task at hand. Let's see just how much you do know about American car manufacturers, and remember not to Google the answers!

Which was the first car-manufacturing company in the United States?

The Duryea Motor Wagon Company was started by J. Frank Duryea and his brother. This company was the earliest car manufacturing firm in America.


From the options below, which of these men started Chevrolet with Louis Chevrolet?

William C. Durant was one of the first motoring pioneers in the United States. His foray into auto manufacturing was in 1904, and Buick turned them into the top brand in American in just four years. He then left to form the General Motors group.


In what year did the Duryea Motor Wagon Company form?

The company started in 1895 and two years later had built their first car based on a design from Charles Duryea, which had first run successfully two years earlier.


The second-generation Corvette is often cited as a personal favorite of car aficionados around the world. What was its nickname?

One of the most famous marques of the Corvette is the Mk II Stingray, produced between 1963 and 1967. This classic had either a 2-speed automatic gearbox or 3-speed manual with a range of engine options, including small and big-block V8s.


What was the name of Duryea brothers' vehicle?

The Motor Wagon was the first vehicle the Duryea brothers sold. It was powered by a one-cylinder gas engine that produced around four horsepower.


Which vehicle was the most popular in the United States at the turn of the 20th Century?

The Oldsmobile Curved Dash was released in 1901 and built until 1907. Over 19,000 of the Curved Dash Oldsmobile were produced.


American car manufacturers are the busiest on the planet in terms of domestic volume. How many cars on the road in the United States?

A staggering 300 million cars are registered in the United States of America. The next-closest country to these figures is China — and they only have around 78 million cars!


The American motor industry has inventor Mary Anderson to thank for which important car part?

In the early years of motoring, drivers would have to lower their windshield when it rained. Mary Anderson devised a way to wipe the windshield clear from within the vehicle, and so the windscreen wiper was born.


Everybody thinks the first car designed by Henry Ford was the Model T. It wasn't. Can you name his first vehicle design?

Henry Ford developed the Quadricycle in 1896. Only four were ever built. The Quadricycle was powered by a two-cylinder engine and had two forward gears, meaning it didn't reverse.


How many vehicles did American auto manufacturers sell in 2017?

Just over 17 million vehicles were sold in the United States in 2017. That includes just over 6 million cars and 11 million SUVs and pickups.


The American motor-vehicle industry employs how many people as of 2017?

Around 940,000 were employed in the American motor industry in 2017. This includes dealerships, manufacturers, used-part dealers and service centers.


Which Ford vehicle was named after Henry Ford's son?

Named after Henry Ford's son, the Edsel was a massive flop and only sold between 1958 and 1960. It's not that the car was bad; it was just really overpriced. And that always turns people away!


One of the first car companies in the United States was started by Ransom E. Olds. What was it called?

One of the oldest car makers in America, Ransom E. Olds started Oldsmobile in 1897. Oldsmobile was one of the early motoring pioneers, with their Curved Dash model selling over 13,000 units from 1901. Sadly, the brand no longer exists as General Motors cut it.


In what year did General Motors end the Oldsmobile brand?

General Motors ended the Oldsmobile brand in 2004 due to poor sales. When it was discontinued, it was the oldest brand in America and the fourth oldest in the world. So sad, really.


During its time in operation from 1897 to 2004, how many vehicles did the Oldsmobile brand sell?

Although its popularity waned in its last years, Oldsmobile was a favorite American brand for much of its lifetime. 35 million Oldsmobiles were sold in those 107 years, with 11 million of them produced at the Oldsmobile plant in Lansing, Michigan.


From the options below, can you pick the auto manufacturers considered to be America's "Big Three"?

Ford, Chevrolet and Chrysler are recognized as the "Big Three" of U.S. auto manufacturers. General Motors lead the pack in terms of sales. In fact, for 77 consecutive years, they were the biggest brand in America. All three, however, have seen Japanese models, such as those of Toyota, make big inroads into the American market.


In which city in the United States are the "Big Three" based?

Ford started in Detroit in 1903. General Motors followed in 1908 and Chrysler in 1925 when the Maxwell Motor Company was renamed. Maxwell had been in Detroit since 1913.


What's the nickname of Detroit, the city in which the "Big Three" have based themselves?

Detroit has always been the focal point of American auto manufacturing. Henry Ford started in the city in 1903, and many others did as well, including brands that no longer exist, such as the Aerocar Company and Benham Manufacturing Company.


True or false? Many of America's early car manufacturers produced electric vehicles.

That is indeed correct. Electric cars were extremely popular during the first years of motoring. For example, the Anderson Electric Car Company produced its first electric car in 1907, and it had a range of around 130 km.


What contribution does the American vehicle industry make to the gross domestic product of the United States?

Although it might not seem that much, 3.5% is massive when you think about it! That's what the American car industry contributes to the U.S. gross domestic product every year! It equates to over $630 billion.


Of course, America exports cars as well. How much revenue did that bring to manufacturers in 2017?

American cars are sold all over the word. For example, Buick are especially popular in China. In 2016, the Buick Excelle sold 370,370 units.


With new drivers gaining their licenses each day, the demand for vehicles is huge in the United States. How many licensed drivers were there in the country in 2017?

The United State government puts the number of licensed drivers in the country at around 222 million. That means 69% of the population is licensed to drive.


In what year did General Motors come into existence?

After turning Buick into the top car brand in America, William C. Durant turned his attention to another project. That was General Motors, which he started in September 1908.


True or false? William C. Durant is the father of automobile-dealer franchises.

Indeed. Durant knew that to sell vehicles effectively, he would have to make them easily available. He did this by establishing automobile-dealer franchises for his brands, taking the car to the American people.


Since the early 1890s to the present day, how many automobile companies have existed in the United States?

Incredibly, around 3,000 automobile manufacturers have existed at one time or another in the history of motoring in the United States. Some like Ford, General Motors and Chrysler continue to thrive, while others like Saturn, Nash and Hudson fell by the wayside.


Which American auto company is responsible for giving us the iconic Corvette?

The Corvette name is loved around the world. From its inception in 1953, the Corvette brand has been the jewel in the Chevrolet crown. Of course, everyone has their favorite Corvette with many citing the C1 and the C2 as personal preferences.


Car purchases hit an all-time high in the United States in the last few years. That often means car loans. How much did car loans total in 2017?

Sadly, most people in working-class families cannot buy a car straight out of the box; they need car loans to be able to pay it off. And car loans in $1.1 trillion were owed in 2017. That's a lot of money!


Thanks to a conveyor-belt-based assembly line first used in 1913, which car company dominated the car market in America from that point onward?

When Henry Ford introduced the first conveyor-belt-based assembly line in 1913, his Model T became cheaper to make. That allowed Ford to drop the price, which saw sales rise significantly and made the Model T the dominant car on the road in the United States.


True or false? American engineer Milton Reeves once designed a car with eight wheels.

Yes, Milton Reeves saw the need for a car with eight wheels when four seemed to be doing just fine. In 1911, he produced the Octo Auto. It was over 20 feet long and cost $3,200. It proved to be a massive flop!


What was Pontiac known as before changing its name?

Founded in 1907, the Oakland Motor Company was established in Pontiac, Michigan and produced vehicles up until 1931, at which time their name changed to Pontiac. Oakland formed part of General Motors from 1909 onward.


What's the name of the iconic muscle car first released by Ford in 1965?

Arguably the most iconic muscle car, of all time the Mustang was first released in 1964. It proved one of the most popular debuts ever, and within a year, it had quadrupled Ford's sale estimates.


Just how many Mustangs did Ford sell in the first year it was released?

The Ford Mustang was so popular that Ford struggled to keep up with the demand. Executives estimated it might sell 100,000 units, but by the end of 1965, 400,000 had left salesrooms across the country.


Model Ts dominated American motoring in 1915. What percentage of cars on the road did this model make up?

That's an incredible amount, actually. It was thanks to the fact that Henry Ford introduced the assembly line in 1913; it brought down the price of his vehicle and made it accessible to all.


How many pounds of copper wiring is used during the construction of an average American car?

With cars made from so many parts, we often forget the wiring that also needs to be placed through the chassis to connect lights, horns and all other electrical components. 55 lbs of copper wire are plenty, but not as impressive as an electric car. That has around 165 lbs of wiring!


True or false? 95% of the cars sold by auto makers in America have automatic transmissions.

Americans love their automatic transmission vehicles and steer clear of stick shifts. While the rest of the world sees a reversal of the American figures, in the U.S. 95% of cars sold today are automatic.


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