The honor of being “the first man to sit behind the controls of a self-propelled road vehicle,” goes to a French army engineer, Nicolas Joseph Cugnot, who in the 1760s designed a monstrous steam carriage to transport artillery. Cugnot’s vehicle was so massive and unwieldy that it knocked over the wall of a courtyard while being tested, and on another occasion turned over on the streets of Paris. Its top speed was from two to six miles per hour.
"Florida's Golden Age of Racing,"
Florida Historical Quarterly: Vol. 45
, Article 5.
Available at: https://stars.library.ucf.edu/fhq/vol45/iss3/5