Bożek’s vehicle

5 listopada 2016

*The world’s first car *

On the 23rd of September 1815 in Prague, which was then under the Austrian rule, a talented Pole, Józef Bożek, howcased the first car built.

*Disambiguation of the origin*

Bożek was born in a Polish family in Biery, a small town near Cieszyn. His father, Mikolaj Bożek, and mother, Magdalena Bożek nee Duda (like the current Polish president – Andrzej Duda), similarly to most occupants of Biery, were both Poles who lived in the Austrian “slice” of then partitioned Poland. Even though in the administrative sense Poland was under a foreign rule between 1795-1918, the Polish national identity and language never ceased to exist. In all of the three partitions Poles never stopped their fight for independence which only came with the end of WWI.

As a result of the historical perturbations of the Polish state the nationality of the residents of these lands can only be traced through the local birth deaths and marriages records, Austrian census records, as well as church correspondence from that period. The study of these documents allowed to establish beyond a doubt that Józef Bożek’s origin was in fact Polish not as previously wrongly assumed – Czek. For the documents attesting to this fact please refer to the Polish version of the website.

*Construction of the car*

Bożek finished high school in Cieszyn and then moved to Prague to continue his education at the university. There he constructed prosthetics, steam engines, and clock which are preserved to this day. During his time as a mechanic at the Technical University of Prague, Bożek constructed the first car. It was designed to carry 3 people and was powered by 2-cylinder steam engine. The steam was produced in the boiler positioned under the front axle, and the vehicle was steered by a single driver who could accelerate, brake, and turn while operating the machine from a seated position. The driver’s seat was located at the front of the car’s chassis which was suspended on springs. The machine also had an ingeniously constructed crankshaft which allowed Bożek to dispose of the flywheel in his engine.

This resulted in a construction of a vehicle whose functionality, dimensions, weight, and other features resembled very closely what we now consider a car. When we compare earlier steam engine vehicles such as tractor, locomotive, or stagecoach – they all deviate too much from the modern definition of a car in all these aspects, to be considered its’ direct predecessors.

Unfortunately, Bożek’s invention was never developed further, not due to the lack of interest but simply due to the lack of funds. Bożek was robbed off his money and henceforth, forced to abandon this project and focus on more lucrative ventures to support his family.