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In 1896, Leon Serpollet invented and perfected 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.
Serpollet produced his own automobiles under the name Serpollet and Gardner-Serpollet until his death in 1907.
There is a 1903 Gardner-Serpollet on display at Larz Anderson Auto Museum in Brookline, Massachusetts.
The Easter Egg
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 Oeuf de Pacques (Easter Egg) reached a speed of 75.06 mph over the flying kilometre at Nice, France on 13 April 1902, exceeding the long standing record of Camille Jenatzy's La Jamais Contente.