{ }

↑ Return to Mechanical

Leos Car

Leonardo da Vinci’s Car

Leonardo da Vinci’s Car Invention can be seen as a first in several categories

  • It is the first self propelled vehicle in history
  • It is the first programmable machine in history


leonardo da vinci's car

leonardo da vinci's car

Although not strictly a car in our modern sense as it did not have seats for a passenger (although this is a simple modification) it is by all means a very well designed machine. In fact, it is so well designed it is unlikely that it could have been built to Leonardo’s specifications for at least a couple of centuries as very detailed machine tooling would be required to build the complex gear systems inside the car.

This automobile was most likely designed for one of Leonardo’s wealthy patrons, he was regularly employed to create complex showpieces for his patrons large and exquisite parties, such things would be a way for them to show their wealth to their guests.

Leonardo’s Car was spring driven so it had to be wound up before it would move, you can see the spring in the image above. It was also programmable –¬† pegs were put into small holes to tell the wheels of the car to turn at certain points in time during the journey, his was all controlled internally by complex gearing and cog assemblies.

Based on the spring diameters and instructions on Leonardo design, it is estimated that the machine could move for up to forty meters before needing to be recoiled.


Leonardo da Vincis automobile

Leonardo da Vincis automobile


¬†Recreation of Leonardo da Vinci’s Car

In 2004 a team from The Institute and Museum of the History of Science in Florence decided to try and recreate Leonardo da Vinci’s Car.They spent several months designing a 3d model of Leonardo’s Car based on his designs, once they had that done they CNC Machined all o the components from the 5 different types of wood Leonardo outlined in is plan.

Eventually after a lot of hard work they succeeded in creating a full scale working model, here is a video they took of the car in action –


Another fascinating thing about the car invention is that it is also the first known source showing a steering column, it also features a rack & pinion gear system, these are found in the steering assemblies of almost all automobiles made today, including those with power steering.