IN the Conservatoire des Arts et Metiers in Paris, one may still see the first automobile that actually generated it’s own power and was really run. It was designed and built in 1771 by a French military engineer named Nicholas Joseph Cugnot,

The first steam car by Joseph Cugnot (1725-1804), French engineer, built in 1771. Model on a scale of 1 to 6 built by Barbouze and Médard placed at the entry of the Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers. Paris, 1850.

and was intended for a gun carriage which was propelled by a self-contained steam engine.  Apparently it was never put to any practical use.  Shortly after Cugnot, and Englishman, W. Symington, built and ran a steam coach (1784), and the American, Oliver Evans, in the same year and again in 1804 put steam wagons on the highway. From the opening of the nineteenth century until the ‘thirties about a dozen Englishman planned, built and operated a number of steam  road wagons.  Two parallel developments were going  on in England, one the steam road coaches, the other railways for horse-drawn vehicles.  When Stephenson put these ideas together and introduced the steam locomotive on a railroad he sounded the knell of the steam highway coaches.  In 1831, Parliament carefully investigated both rail and road steam-vehicles to decide which to foster by public moneys, reported in favor of the railroad and banned steam omnibuses from public roads.

 Sir Goldsworthy Gurney’s steam carriage of 1827   Sir Goldsworthy Gurney’s steam carriage of 1827   Sir Goldsworthy Gurney’s steam carriage of 1827
Early American Railroad Train (1854), showing passenger coaches, which are simply transformed road stages.  1928 Autobus

Richard Trevithick inventor’s 3-wheelers steam coach 1803 London’s first bus.
It was also called the “Puffin Devil” Ban Horseless Carriage up Camborne Hill in Cornwall.  The huge 8-foot-diameter wheels were intended to smooth out bumps on the roadway so that the fire under the boiler didn’t go out.




London and Bath Royal Patent