Car History 4U

History of Gas Powered Motorised Vehicles

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Note: Gas in this section is defined as town, coal, stove gas, etc. Not petrol.

5.1 Pre 1900 Gas Powered Motorised Vehicles

    • Britain: In 1826 Samuel Brown patented and built a “gas-and-vacuum” engine (adapting an old steam engine to burn gas).
    • It had a capacity of 8,800 cc but was rated at only 4 hp.
    • He fitted the engine to a carriage, which in 1826 “drove up Shooters Hill on the outskirts of London”.
    • France: Jean Joseph Etienne Lenior (Belgian/ naturalized French) invented in 1858 and patented in 1860 what is considered by many to be the first successful gas powered, internal combustion engine suitable for use on a road vehicle.
    • The engine was tested on a three-wheeled cart in 1860.
    • Britain: In 1887 the British Santler brothers, Charles and Walter, designed a small steam engine, which they tested on a four-wheeled chassis in 1889. This engine was soon replaced on their experimental car by an engine which ran on compressed town gas.
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