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It happened on October 2nd: Steam car inventor passes away

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Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot, a French engineer who invented the world's first self-propelled vehicle, died in Paris on October 2nd, 1804. His 2-cylinder fardier à vapeur ("steam dray") was built from 1769-1771. It's now preserved at the Musée des arts et métiers in Paris.

Cugnot got the idea while serving in the army and watching horses pulling heavy pieces of artillery. He wanted an alternative solution to animal traction.

With an overall length of 7.25 metres and a dry weight of 2.8 tonnes (up to 8 tonnes when full), the vehicle used a 1.5-metre wide water tank. Nicknamed the chariot à feu (fire cart), it is known by many as the first-ever passenger car.

A copy of Cugnot's invention built by students at Ecole des Arts et Métiers ParisTech and shown at the 2010 Paris Auto Show revealed that his calculations were all accurate.

Photo: Wikipedia