Stanley Locomobile steam car, 1899.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
In the early days of the motor car, a considerable number of manufacturers believed in steam propulsion as a viable alternative to the petrol engine. This was particularly true in the United States, where this car was produced. It was a small open vehicle with one transverse seat for two persons, including the driver, and it was similar in appearance to a Stanhope gig except that it had four pneumatic tyres. It weighed only about 5cwt without water and petrol fuel. The engine and boiler were placed beneath the seat, and behind them in the enclosed boot were the feed-water tanks and smoke outlet. The driving power was transmitted by a light chain from the crankshaft via a differential gear. Stanley continued producing steam cars until as late as 1924.