Bikkers Steam Car

Although this looks more like a fire engine, it is actually a sanitation vehicle and the oldest surviving municipal vehicle in the Netherlands.

At the beginning of the twentieth century this Bikkers was used by the local authority of Amsterdam to clean building façades, advertising columns and other street furniture. The steam engine provided the propulsion and also fed the pressurised steam hose.

It is a typical utility vehicle in that no thought was given to comfort. The workmen were not protected from the elements; there is no windscreen and no roof. The car’s front wheels are wooden discs and it has solid tyres.

Nevertheless, the vehicle was produced by a manufacturer of fire appliances, A. Bikkers & Zn. in Rotterdam, whose history dated back to 1783. At the end of the 19th century, Bikkers was even able to claim the title of supplier to the royal household. In 1905 the company produced the first Dutch fire engine, which was also steam-driven. Bikkers closed down in 1983, 200 years after the company was founded.

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