The first African American car manufacturer in 1916 was Frederick Douglass Patterson. However, the credit would have gone to Charles Richard Patterson if the question had asked of the first African-American to own a car manufacturing company.
The C.R. Patterson & Sons Company began as a carriage manufacturing company and was founded by Charles Richard Patterson. The first set of carriages built by this firm were horse-drawn carriages. Charles Richard Patterson was born into slavery and must have thought the best way to do a significant thing at that time was to open a car manufacturing company.
The name C.R. Patterson & Sons Company came about due to the involvement of his two children, Samuel and Frederick, in the business. However, Charles Richard Patterson died in 1910, and Frederick took over the company. Frederick Douglass Patterson, in a bid to do something new, created the first car (horseless carriage) of his company on Sept. 23, 1915.