A short history of cars in Iceland

The first cars
On the 20th of June 1904 was a big change in the history of Iceland, that day the first car came to Iceland. It was consul Dethlevs Thomsens, Cudel car, that arrived, so-called "Thomsenscar". Thomsen got a financial aid from the government to try out this new vehicle which was now rapidly in use abroad.The "Thomsenscar" did not prove itself as good as thought, it had been bought used and somewhat out of order. This car did not have a long or outstanding history in Iceland, even if it is a remarkable pioneer in the history of cars in Iceland. The next car, so-called "Grundarcar", which a farmer and a shopkeeper, Magnus Sigurðsson, at Grund in Eyjafjörður, imported 1907.


The rapid increasing of cars
It was not until the year 1913 that a car was imported which was the beginning of a increasing car import to the country. That was a Ford, which Sveinn Oddsson printer owned, one of the world famous T-Fords which Henry Ford managed to manufacture cheap and quick because of the conveyor belt. In september 1913 came another Ford and a little later the first Overland car, and they were a big competition for Ford the next years. The Ford had good start in the beginning and in 1914 was the first Ford truck imported. Until 1920 was a big increase in cars importing and that year 170 cars had been imported so far, mostly Ford and Overland, also Maxwell, Saxon, Chevrolet and Buick.


Law and regulations
The first regulations for cars in Iceland were confirmed in November 1914, and one rule was that the speed in town may not exceed 15 km per hour, and 35 km in the country. The first car inspection was in September 1917 and 1926 became mandatory to insure all cars. The first fatal motorcar accident in Iceland was in June 1919 when an old woman was run over in Reykjavík. In the year 1925 mostly all traffic was by car, mostly there were taxis, but a few private cars. In the year 1930 there were 1434 cars registered in the country, most of them in Reykjavík.


The multiplication of cars
The next 15 years cars really increased in Iceland and at the end of the first war there were 2300 cars and 2000 trucks in the country. In that time the ratio was 138 persons to each car, but that really changed the next 15 years, in 1960 there were only 12 persons to each of the 20 thousand cars in the country. The last years had been time of strict import regulations and a ration, due to strict currency regulations, although jeeps were easy to come by at that time. In 1945-50 were 2000 Willys jeep´s imported and were at sometime about 20% of the total possession of cars. In the year 1960 the import of cars was given "free", and in the year 1970 the cars were over 40 thousand. Since then they have tripled, and today they are 120 thousand, which indicates just 2 persons to each car, and that is a world record..


The origin of cars changes
In the year 1945, 90% of the cars here were American ones and only 10% from Europe. A decade later 1956, European cars were up to 40%. Most people know the progress of these matters. European cars were to be main type on the market and the American cars came increasingly fewer. Instead came cars from the land of the rising sun, Japan, and they are the most popular on Icelandic roads today.