White Steamer 10 hp steam motor car, 1903-1905.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Sectioned. 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 the White Sewing Machine Company of Cleveland, Ohio manufactured the White Steamer between 1900 and 1910. Presidential approval was accorded to steam cars by Theodore Roosevelt, who regularly used a White Steamer to transport him to official engagements, and the New York Police Department purchased several of the cars in 1908. However, the popularity of the petrol motor car was growing steadily, and most of the manufacturers of steam cars had switched to petrol or gone out of busines by the early 1910s.