The history of the automobile spans many years. With the first discovery of the wheel, thoughts of transportation spawned. In the early 15th century, Portuguese and China had created technologies like a wheel that powered itself. Many believe that in1769 the car was created by a French army officer named Captain Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot. He made a three wheeled steam powered vehicle that carried 4 people. Having a top speed of only 2mph, he designed it to move artillery pieces. In 1801, new creations that were successful, but very heavy, were outlawed on English streets. They were forced to use private tracks like trains. Richard Trevithick drove 100 miles from Cornwall to London, and gained the attention of vehicle engineers all over. Services sprouted in England, with trips to and from London, Horse Drawn companies and railroads were losing business. They pressured Parliament to pass high taxes on the steam powered vehicles, quickly driving them out of business.
Internal combustion engines were discovered in 1860, and quickly became the new norm in automobile engineering. A one cylinder engine that burned on kerosene was the first engine, but then came the 2, 3 and 4 cyl in the early 1900s. Americas first car was born in 1902, the Locomobile. The 4 cylinder water cooled front mounted engine was kept around till 1911. Various luxuries were added, including baggage compartments in 1906, weather resistant tops and side curtains, and electric crank start in 1911.
Most automobiles at the turn of the 20th century appeared more or less like horseless carriages. In 1906 gasoline-powered cars were produced that had a style all their own, in these new models; a hood covered the front-mounted engine. Two kerosene or acetylene lamps mounted to the front served as headlights. Cars had fenders that covered the wheels and step-up platforms called running boards, which helped passengers, get in and out of the vehicle.