When did cars first drive on roads in Japan? There are a variety of theories about this, but no one has a definite answer. However, it appears that they came from overseas to Japan over 110 years ago around 1900. So here's a simple history of the car. Almost 240 years ago in 1769, Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot of France is said to have driven the first steam engine car down the streets of Paris. Later, in 1886, the German Karl Friedrich Benz built the world's first gasoline powered vehicle (which had three wheels). Because this car drove better and could travel farther than a steam powered vehicle, gasoline powered cars became the main type of car. In 1904, Torao Yamaba was the first to drive a steam powered vehicle in Japan.