On October 6th, RM Auctions, the world's largest auctioneers of quality cars, will be featuring a real gem - The world's oldest running motorcar. The 127-year old De Dion Bouton et Trepardoux Dos-a-Dos Steam Runabout was commissioned by French entrepreneur Count de Dion, 12 years before Henry Ford built his first car!
Dubbed La Marquise, after Count de Dion's mother, the nine feet long masterpiece seats four people 'dos-a-dos' (back-to back) and can travel at speeds of up to 37mph, though the average is closer to 16mph. However, do not plan on an impromptu road trip aboard this vehicle - It's two steam engines, fueled with paper, wood and coal, take over 45 minutes to generate enough steam to get going and, its 40 gallon water tank, has to be replenished after every 20 miles!
While this may sound really slow in today's jet set pace, the engines were considered to be quite revolutionary in 1884 - Not only were they really compact compared to other steam engines, but also, took only 45 minutes to get going! The car was so fast that it is reputed to have won the world's first motoring race, that took place in 1887 and attracted a total of - just this one car! But, it did complete it and win!
The reason for the car's immaculate condition is its relatively few owners - Only two since the Count sold it to French army officer, Henry Doriol, in 1906. Though the Doriol family owned it for 81 years, they could not get it to run after it lost its copper and brass fittings following World War 1 in 1914. In 1987, they sold it to a British car buff by the name of Tom Moore, who figured out how to get it running again, by examining an 1890 model that lies inside France's Le Man museum, and painstakingly re-building the missing parts.
Since then, the car has earned several awards including one at California's prestigious Concourse d' Elegance and also, participated in several competitions, including four London - BrightonVeteran Car Runs.
Given its great track record and the fact that only two of the original twenty Bouton vehicles are left - Of which, this is only one that is roadworthy, the car is probably going to fetch a lot more than the list price of $2mm USD. To read more about this extraordinary vehicle check out rmauctions.com.
Resources: Gizmag.com, autoblog.com, rmauctions.com