Farm Collector

Over A Century Older Than The Petrol Car!

By Staff

Reprinted with permission from A Century of Motoring. Submitted
by Michael Prendergast, Reanacoolagh, Lismore, County Waterford,

Preserved in Paris is one of the two steam ‘tractors’
built between 1769 and 1771 by a retired French military engineer
from Lorraine, Nicholas Joseph Cugnot, who had served in the armies
of both Austria and France. Cugnot’s wagons, believed by the
authorities to have potential military significance, were the
world’s first self-propelled vehicles, but were abysmally
defective in motive power, in steering and in control, simply
because their constructor’s ideas were decades ahead of
locomotion technology then available. Note the massive boiler
overhanging the front wheel and feeding a crude twin cylinder

Not for another 60 years were Cugnot’s ideas resurrected by
steam pioneers mainly in Britiain, but to a smaller extent in
America where steam-car designs were known by March 1833but success
did not come until it was learned how to harness high-pressure

It was the Scottish engineer and scientist, James Watt, F.R.S.
(1736-1819), whose epoch-making innovations in steam technology led
to the development of all subsequent steam engines. With Matthew
Boulton (1728-1809), Watt constructed his first experimental engine
in 1774, or about three years after the last Cugnot effort.

  • Published on Nov 1, 1993
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