While the pat answer to the question "Who invented the first automobile?" is, generally, "Karl Benz, duh, in 1885," there's always been a small debate around the topic.

Depending on your definition of "automobile," you can argue the car dates back to 1771, or even all the way back to 1478. But if you're talking something markedly resembling an ancestor of today's vehicles, maybe your best argument is for this Canada-built steam-powered buggy from 1867.

This cart, designed and constructed by Quebec jeweler Henry Seth Taylor, has four wheels versus Benz's three, and a strange crank-based steering system (hey, Benz used a tiller, so it wasn't like he'd figured things out perfectly either).

Whether Taylor's machine counts as the first-ever car depends on whether you allow steam propulsion in under your definition – is the White Steamer a car? – and whether you'll give him a pass despite him crashing on his first and only outing with the thing.


We've got the full story on Henry Seth Taylor's steam machine here, and plus some more bits of early Canadian automotive trivia.