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Steam Cars

Published on Apr 02, 2024


A steam car is a car powered by a steam engine


In 1769 Captain Nicolas Joseph Cugnot, a French Army officer built what many consider to be the first automobile although he designed the vehicle primarily to move artillery pieces.

The Cugnot Steam car or "Steamer" was three-wheeled and could carry four persons. It had a top speed of 2 mph (3.2 km/h) and had to stop every 20 minutes to build up a fresh head of steam.In 1825 Sir Goldsworthy Gurney a Cornish engineer invented the first high pressure ´horseless´ steam carriage, although it was not a great success, due the understandable apprehension of passengers who had to ride in a compartment situated directly above the dangerous steam boiler.


The Gurney Steamer is similar to a coach. It is mounted on 6 wheels where 4 wheels sustain the vehicle weight while the 2 front wheels, the so callet "pilot" wheels, replace the horses and are used for turning the steam carriage.

Sir Gurney later refined his design to provide a separate carriage which was hauled by the engine, known as the ´Gurney Drag´. In 1829 this steam driven carriage journeyed from London to Bath, although it´s maiden journey was marred by an accident just outside Reading where it collided with the Bristol Mail Coach. It was later attacked by a Luddite mob outside Melksham and had to be escorted into Bath under guard. The average speed for the round trip was 15 mph and is claimed as the first long journey undertaken by a mechanised vehicle at a sustained speed.

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