Nicholas-Joseph Cugnot (1725-1804) was a military engineer from Void, Lorraine in France who, in 1769, made the first self-propelled vehicle. A steam-powered vehicle, it was more of a tractor than a car, and was invented for the purpose of hauling artillery. It was built at the Paris Arsenal under the supervision of a mechanic named Michel Brezin. The vehicle could haul a load of up to five tons at a rate of three miles per hour. The original had to have water added about every 15 minutes. The three-wheeled design, with the engine hanging over the front, was not very stable. Cugnot was commisioned to build a second and much improved version, but by the time it was finished there was a new Minister of War and the government became uninterested.
The engine was quite revolutionary, the first steamer to move pistons without condensation and to use a recirpocating engine. Cugnot retired to Brussels in 1779.