Leon Bollee was the son of Amedee Bollee of LeMans, France, who built some of the first steam carriages. Leon himself was a pioneer of the gasoline engine, developing lightweight gas powered vehicles when he was still relatively young. These cars were very popular in their day since they were quite simple, reliable and relatively less expensive than a full-size car. The single cylinder engine has a belt final-drive; when the belt's rear wheel slides backward it puts tension on the belt, thus acting as the clutch, and when it slides forward, it jams the back wheel against the brake block. Two Leon Bolleee-built cars were the first to finish the Emancipation Run of 1896.