Video of the Day: The original steam car, Cugnot is a 250-year-old design

Start up and drive off of a reproduction 1770 contraption, which was the earliest-known ‘automobile’

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An assistant stands by to help the Cugnot's driver get under way

Back in the days of three-cornered hats and powdered wigs came the earliest-known self-propelled vehicle, a bizarre steam-powered contraption first demonstrated in France and called the Cugnot. 

The year was 1770 and the Cugnot was at the time a technological marvel using the greatest of wagon-building innovation.  A huge steam boiler hung off the front, creating pressure to drive the engine and the front wheel of the 3 -wheeled beast.

In the Video of the Day, we see a reproduction of the original Cugnot being started up (a feat in itself) and slowly, laboriously driving away under its own huffing power.  Talk about steam punk!

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Bob Golfen is a longtime automotive writer and editor, focusing on new vehicles, collector cars, car culture and the automotive lifestyle. He is the former automotive writer and editor for The Arizona Republic and SPEED.com, the website for the SPEED motorsports channel. He has written free-lance articles for a number of publications, including Autoweek, The New York Times and Barrett-Jackson auction catalogs. A collector car enthusiast with a wide range of knowledge about the old cars that we all love and desire, Bob enjoys tinkering with archaic machinery. His current obsession is a 1962 Porsche 356 Super coupe.

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