Cars from 1878 to 1920 - The forerunners
Body style: tonneau
This steam car takes us backs to a ‘prehistoric’ era of motoring. Roger Bacon, a 13th century English monk and scientist, may well have been the first person to have dreamed of the motorcar. His writings include this prediction: “One day, we will impel vehicles with incredible speeds, without the aid of any animal.” Other subsequent visionaries such as Leonardo da Vinci or Saloman de Caus also pursued research on the same topic. The first self-propelled (auto-mobile) vehicle was the “fardier”, built by Frenchman Nicolas Joseph Cugnot in 1769 with a heavy wooden chassis and a steam engine.
Following Cugnot’s work, other projects continued in Britain and France, and a second generation of motorcars came to birth in the 1870s, through work from Bollée and a host of motoring pioneers, only some of whom are remembered. A Doctor Jacquot from Chantilly commissioned a blacksmith to build him a small vehicle. The craftsman was an excellent mechanic, and grafted a steam boiler onto a horse carriage, to create a strange blend of cart and locomotive. This unique creation is a blend of ancient and modern, with the boiler and two-cylinder engine at the front, like a mini locomotive, and a transmission formed of cogwheels and perforated belts.
It is difficult to assess what the performance of this vehicle would have been.