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Vancouver's first automobile was steam powered and didn't have a steering wheel

It was quite the sight back in 1899.

While the first motorized vehicle in Vancouver was a complete bust, the first real automobile to take to the city's streets was a little more refined.

Dubbed a Stanley Steamer or steam car, about 200 were built in the late 1890s; one of those made it out to Vancouver in 1899 to the delight of W.H. Armstrong. It was bought by his business partner W.C. Ditmars, and the gift was driven down Alexander Street in August of that year, drawing a crowd according to one newspaper.

The odd vehicle was being driven by Armstrong's business associate George Taylor, who used a tiller to steer as kids ran alongside and pedestrians watched the unusual sight. At top speed, it hit 15 miles per hour or about 25 km/h.

While there was no horn, it did have a bell, which you rang with pedals.

Shortly after showing off the vehicle in the town centre, they took it on a trip around Stanley Park.

Ditmars, who spent $1,000 on the Stanley (or about $30,000 in today's dollars), wasn't actually too impressed with the purchase, and apparently called it a "rank extravagance" and "a toy," according to the news article from 1942. However, someone else saw promise in the oddity; the tiny automobile inspired the city's fire chief to pursue the purchase of a horseless fire engine.