It's always incredible to see truly vintage cars in person, to feel how different the scale of everything is, the different sorts of materials used, the unusual smells, everything. It's visceral. That's why when you actually get to see something truly archaic running, it's a very special treat. Like this 1906 White Steamer.
This one is a Model F with Roi des Belges bodywork, which seems to mean King of Belgium style? If so, that Belgian king sure seemed to hate glass windows. It's a beautifully maintained example, and, of course, is fully operational, as the charmingly cranky-sounding owner demonstrated.
The owner explained that pumping the pedal there actually pumps air into the system to pressurize things, and doesn't actually pump white gas to burn more fuel to make more steam, like on a Stanley Steamer. It's all fascinating technology, and around 1906, was a lot more mature than ICE tech.
Just listen to those sounds. Those aren't the engine sounds we're used to. The smells were also entirely different, and the vapors and clouds of steam superficially resemble conventional car exhaust but have such a different effect on everything. It's sort of sauna-like down in that engine bay. It feels, oddly, cleaner, than a gasoline car.
Plus, look at that dash with those glass cylinders of various oils and reagents and probably potions and tinctures and unguents.
Seeing this run was one of the highlights of the show for me. I need to find some more old steam-car junkies around LA and get another steamy fix soon.