Have you ever asked yourself who invented the world’s first car? If we refer to the world’s first modern car then it was Karl Benz in 1886.
But if we want to talk about who or what inspired Mr. Benz then we need to go far away back in prehistory. We have possessed knowledge about wheel for thousands of years and have been using it in many ways through the history, especially with the help of animals for the transportation. Anyway, I think that the real automobile could be called something that needs no other help than itself to get going.
Extremely accomplished Flemish missionary, astronomer, mathematician, diplomat and mapmaker MIGHT be the inventor. In Ferdinand Verbiest’s text “Astronomia Europea” is described the steam engine that could be considered the world’s first car. It was a small, self-propelled vehicle with a ball shaped boiler which forced the steam towards a turbine that could turn the back wheels. According to Verbiest, he made it as a toy for the emperor of China.
Well, unfortunately it could not be used by humans since it was really small and we never discovered if it was actually built or existed only in the books. It is believed it was since Verbiest had the access to all the tools needed to make it.
Between 1769 and 1771 Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot built a steam powered automobile in human size. His design was pretty unique. It had two big wheels in the back and a single very thick wheel at the front, and it could sit four people. Its top speed should have been five miles per hour but it never got even close to that. It had poor wight distribution and was really difficult to control so it never got commercialized.
After these there were several other attempts to build self-propelled vehicles but none of them actually worked. Next time, we will talk about the first MODERN car.