The first air powered vehicles were actually trains. The Mekarski
air engine, the Robert Hardie air engine and the Hoadley-Knight
pneumatic system were used in the 1800's to power locomotives.
From 1896 onward Charles B. Hodges invented air powered engines
and made a profit selling hundreds of locomotives through the
H. K. Porter Company. The inventor of the first air car, however,
has been debated for years.
In 1925, an article appeared in the Decatur Review about a man
named Louis C. Kiser who converted his gasoline powered car to run
on air. Lee Barton Williams in 1926 claimed to have invented the
first air car. Williams was from Pittsburg and claimed the car started
on gasoline but after 10 mph it switched to compressed air only.
In 1931, the Hope Star of Hope, Arkansas ran an article about Roy
J. Meyers of Los Angeles inventing the first air car.
In 1934, Bob Neal north of Hope, Arkansas filed a patent application
for a pneumatic engine. Also in 1934, the Netherlands native Johannes
Wardenier claimed to have invented the first air car. There is
a whole conspiracy theory about how Wardenier was imprisoned,
sent to a mental institution and then a concentration camp with
his designs stolen.
In the 1970's the Troyan air mobile was said to be the first air
car. Inventor Joseph P. Troyan designed the air powered flywheel
in a closed system. Also in the 1970's Willard Truitt presented
his air car invention. But, because he didn't have the financial
means to pursue its development he sold the design to the U. S.
Army and NASA in 1982.
In 1974, Russel R. Brown of Texas claimed to have invented the
first air car. And, in 1975, Sorgato in Italy invented an experimental
air car that used nine 2840 psi air bottles. In 1976 in Vacaville,
California, Ray Starbard invented a compressed air truck.
In 1979, Terry Miller invented Air Car One which only cost him
$1,500 to build. He patented his car that ran on compressed air.
In the 1980's, inventors Claud Mead, Des Hill, Ricardo Perez-Pomar
and George Miller said that they had invented an air car.
In 2007, Tata Motors introduced the MDI CityCat developed by Guy
Nègre as the first commercial air car. As of 2009, two
more models of MDI air cars have been showcased.