Leon Levasseur patented the first V8 engine in 1902. Anticipating that the newly invented airplane needed lightweight, powerful engines, he designed a light V8 that used fuel injection but lacked sufficient power for extended flight. Levasseur installed a number of these engines in European speedboats and a few airplanes.
The engines drew the attention of Alberto Santos-Dumont, who ordered larger and more powerful versions for use in a fleet of planes he planned to introduce by flying across the English Channel; however, two attempts failed due to engine failure.
The first uses of the V8 engine were in a 1905 race car built by Darracq and three vehicles built by Rolls-Royce between 1905 and 1906. A Massachusetts company also produced a V8 auto, the Buffum Runabout, in 1905. Cadillac adopted the V8 engine in 1914 and sold 13,000 cars containing them that year.