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The world's oldest running car up for sale

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September 22, 2011

1884 De Dion Bouton et Trepardoux Dos-a-Dos Steam Runabout

1884 De Dion Bouton et Trepardoux Dos-a-Dos Steam Runabout

Image Gallery (20 images)

A very special car will cross the auctioneers block next month - it's the world's oldest running motor car, a historic 1884 de Dion Bouton et Trepardoux Dos-a-Dos Steam Runabout. The second prototype built by Count de Dion, the car participated in the world's first automobile race.

The world's first race is generally regarded as being the Paris-Rouen trial of 1895, but there was indeed an earlier race in 1887 - billed as "Europe's first motoring competition", run by the editor of France's top selling bicycle magazine, Le Velocipede - only one car turned up to race - this car. It completed the course, and although it's arguably not possible to have a race without two competitors, this is the car that "won" that race, achieving a claimed top speed of 37 mph on the straights.

Commissioned by French entrepreneur, Count de Dion, and built by Georges Bouton and Charles-Armand Trepardoux, the 1884 De Dion steamer was nicknamed "La Marquise" after the Count de Dion's mother. Measuring just nine feet in length, La Marquise features twin compound steam engines, "spade handle" steering and seats four people "dos-a-dos" (back-to-back). The seats are located on top of the steel tank, which holds 40 gallons of water, good for about 20 miles; its sophisticated boiler, fed by coal or coke, can be steamed in 45 minutes.

1884 De Dion Bouton et Trepardoux Dos-a-Dos Steam Runabout

If there's a surprise, it's the functional nature of the prototype - it seats four dos-a-dos, takes more than half an hour to prepare before it can drive, and requires watering every 20 miles, but it is one of the most significant automobiles in history and it goes to auction on October 6. The de Dion is naturally expected to create quite a bit of interest with auctioneers RM Auctions expecting somewhere beyond US$2.0 million.

We're currently looking into the history of the car and the claims it was the winner of the world's first full automobile race in 1888 and will report back. In the meantime, check out the photo gallery.

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5 Comments

Whoo-hoo chick magnet!

Edwin Austin
23rd September, 2011 @ 10:27 am PDT

Somebody get Jay Leno on the phone. He'll be so pissed if he can't add this to his collection.

YukonJack
23rd September, 2011 @ 10:44 am PDT

Finally it's up for grabs , Haha :D

Prajesh Ananthan
24th September, 2011 @ 04:37 am PDT

World's first golf cart! Back-to-back seating, 20-mile range... Yep, golf cart.

Tom Spencer
24th September, 2011 @ 07:15 am PDT

That's cool. If I had that kind of money, it'd defintately be on my look-out list. Having it in your mansion or garage, everytime you see it or go near it, it'd bring you back 110+ years. And it could only gain value over time - so it's also an investment.

Sambath Pech
25th September, 2011 @ 10:32 pm PDT
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