On this day in automotive history the first running V-8 was patented.

The French engine designer Leon-Marie-Joseph-Clement Levavasseur successfully patents his running V-8 engine on December 2, 1902. The engine block was the first to arrange eight pistons in the V-formation that accepted a crankshaft with four throws to be turned by eight pistons.

Image from: http://www.wedgeneering.co.uk/TVR%20390SE%20p2.htm
Diagram of a v8 engine

While there is much discussion debating the official inventor of the v8 engine, Levavasseur is credited with the invention of the V-8 engine in 1899.

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A snap shot of Léon Levavasseur

He began his career studying fine arts and painting. Luckily, he changed his path to focus on his interest in petrol engines and began working for French manufacturer, Antoinette. A manufacturer that inadvertently became a pioneer builder of airplanes before the first World War.

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Detail of Antoinette VII aircraft, showing Antoinette V8 engine

In the summer months of 1902, Levavasseur urged industrialist Jules Gastambide that if they wanted to succeed in flight, a lightweight and powerful engine would be necessary. Levavasseur presented the drafts for one of these lightweight and powerful engines. He also suggested they be named after Gastambide’s daughter, Antoinette.

After the manufacturer company Antoinette went out of business, he continued to work on the engineering designs of airplanes. His success with variable area wing design won him the “Safety in Aeroplanes” prize and was later acquired by the French government.

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