Léon Serpollet was a French engineer, one of the automobile pioneers, racing driver and developer of flash steam boilers and steam automobiles. Leon Serpollet and his brother Henri formed La Société des Moteurs Serpollet Frères in Montmartre in 1886. In 1896 Léon Serpollet patented the flash boiler, which made steam a much more practical source of power for an automobile. The oil-fired flash boiler fed steam to a very advanced four-cylinder enclosed engine similar to the contemporary petrol engine design including poppet valves and an enclosed crankcase. Steam cars had many limitations as the steam car needs to collect water regularly, and it required time, up to 20 minutes in the early days, to get up a head of steam. Despite the limits, the performance of the Serpollet cars was very competitive against the internal combustion engines of the time. In 1898 the brothers met a wealthy investor named Frank Gardner, and together they formed the Gardner-Serpollet Company. Serpollet steam vehicles were active participants in the first car races, starting with the Paris-Rouen run in 1894. In 1902 Gardner-Serpollet produced a Œuf de Pâques (‘Easter Egg’) car powered by 4-cylinder steam engine which developed 106 bhp at 1220 rpm. During the 1902 Nice Speed Meeting Leon Serpollet on his steam car recorded the fastest time on flying kilometer (29.8 secs) and set new world speed record (120.805 kph). This was the only world speed record for a steam powered car.
|1902||Speed Record Trials||Nice Speed trial, 13th April|