Suomen moottoriajoneuvokanta ennen vuotta 1922


  • Mikko Pentti
  • Ville Mäkinen


Motor vehicles in Finland before 1922 The registration of motor vehicles on provincial basis in Finland began in 1922.The first cars, however, were known to have appeared in 1900, the first motorcycles in 1895 and the first road locomobiles already in the 1870’s. The Finnish Automobile and road museum Mobilia began a survey project of all the original sources from the period before 1922. The idea was to build foundations for the Finnish heritage vehicles register. Before surveying the remaining vehicles, there is a necessity to have a clear view of what once existed. The register on cars, trucks, motorcycles and miscellaneous vehicles is published on the Mobilia website for all interested parties. This article focuses on the data that the research project has produced, and analyzes the different source-types, the vehicle fleet and vehicle ownership. This is the first time the Finnish motor vehicles of the period in question have been analyzed on this scale.The article shows that earlier estimates of the amount of vehicles have been too low. Previous figures of approximately 1800 cars were taken from statistics in the beginning of 1922 as well as from some vague numbers in corporate histories from car dealers. The study shows that there probably were more than 2500 cars, including trucks and vans, and more than 1200 motorcycles in Finland during the period. As known before, this was a time of German automobiles. The most common brands were Opel, NAG, Benz, Ford and Adler. However, most Fords were imported after the First World War, whereas the German cars came before that. In the motorcycles, most popular brands were Wanderer, Indian, Harley-Davidson, NSU and Humber.The vehicles were owned by officials, companies and private individuals. Private ownership of cars became common among the wealthier classes by the end of the period. Taxis were owned by people with labor class background in the cities, but by wealthier people in the countryside. With motorcycles, technically oriented managers, laborers and merchants were the most common owners, which appears as an interesting pattern.The First World War and the Finnish Civil War had a big impact on the vehicle fleet. First of all, a large part of all vehicles were taken out of the country or used by the Russian officials. This was not necessarily due to confiscations, but instead Finns sold vehicles to the Russian state. The war time also produced the best sources with inventories of cars and motorcycles in all Finnish provinces. Geographically most of motor vehicles were in southern Finland, close to the important centers of Helsinki, Turku and Tampere. The second largest city, Viipuri, also had a strong vehicle fleet, but in rural Karelia motor vehicles were rare. Compared to population, the amount of cars and motorcycles was extremely small in northern and eastern Finland, but by 1922 they were seen all over the country.




Pentti, M., & Mäkinen, V. (2017). Suomen moottoriajoneuvokanta ennen vuotta 1922. Tekniikan Waiheita, 35(1), 19–42. Noudettu osoitteesta