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Gardner-Serpollet (steam) 5HP Double phaeton from 1900
1901 Serpollet Vis-a-Vis Typ_D, 1901, Collection Schlumpf, Mulhouse, France
PTL Serpollet double phaeton c. 1902
Racing two-seater 1902
1903 Gardner-Serpollet now at Larz Anderson Auto Museum
Phaeton 1906

Gardner-Serpollet was a French manufacturer of steam-powered cars in the early 20th century. Léon Serpollet is credited with inventing and perfecting the flash boiler in the late 1800s.[1]

Serpollet produced his own automobiles under the name Serpollet and Gardner-Serpollet until his death in 1907.


Léon Serpollet was born in the Ain department of France, and went on to establish his factory with his brother Henri on the rue des Cloÿs in the 18th arrondissement of Paris, a location that has become the Parc Léon Serpollet today.[2] In 1886 the brothers formed La Société des Moteurs Serpollet Frères in Montmartre.[3][4]

Flash boiler[edit]

Leon Serpollet and his brother Henri, early French steam car pioneers, worked together to perfect the flash tube boiler that introduced an efficient and new way to produce steam. The exact date that their innovative system was first built appears to be unknown, but after further development it went on to make steam power in an automobile more practical because of its advanced design and quick steam output. They made a steam tricycle in the late eighteen-eighties to test the steam engines and it soon convinced others of the merit of the design.[1]

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.[5]

1894 Paris-Rouen[edit]

On July 22, 1894 four Serpollet vehicles competed in the Le Petit Journal Contest for Horseless Carriages from Paris to Rouen.[6] Maurice Le Blant finished 14th and Ernest Archdeacon finished 16th, but 'De Prandiéres' and Étienne le Blant stopped en route.[7][8]

Gardner-Serpollet formed[edit]

In 1898 the brothers met Frank Gardner, a wealthy American. They formed the Gardner-Serpollet Company which began producing cars in 1900.[1]

A 1903 Gardner-Serpollet is on display at Larz Anderson Auto Museum in Brookline, Massachusetts.

The Easter Egg[edit]

Besides being an inventor and manufacturer, Leon Serpollet became the first driver of a non-electrically powered car to hold the Land Speed Record. His ovoid steam car Œuf de Pâques (Easter Egg) reached a speed of 120 km/h (75 mph) over the flying kilometre on the Promenade des Anglais at Nice, France on April 13, 1902, exceeding the 1899 record of Camille Jenatzy's La Jamais Contente.

phaéton tulipée 1905
1905 phaéton tulipée
on the road
coupé-limousine 1905
body by Kellner


  1. ^ a b c Full Steam Ahead – Leon Serpollet, The Old Motor, February 4, 2014 Retrieved July 9, 2015
  2. ^ "Square Leon Serpollet". Paris Walking Tours.
  3. ^ Baudet, Jean C. (March 2, 2015). Les plus grandes entreprises: Celles qui changèrent le monde (in French). Primento. ISBN 978-2390090502. Retrieved February 1, 2018.
  4. ^ "GARDNER-SERPOLLET – (1.900 – 1.907)" (in Spanish). Autopasion. Retrieved July 9, 2015.
  6. ^ texte, Parti social français Auteur du (July 23, 1894). "Le Petit journal". Gallica.
  7. ^ Gallica, Online Archive of France. 22 July 1894. Le Petit Journal
  8. ^ texte, Parti social français Auteur du (July 22, 1894). "Le Petit journal". Gallica.

External links[edit]

Media related to Gardner-Serpollet at Wikimedia Commons