1901 De Dion Bouton
1901 De Dion Bouton
This may possibly the most original De Dion of its period in the world. It's provenance is unimpeachable and the car still travels with original documents tools and even the cap and an original photograph of its original owner.
It was entered into and finished the London to Brighton in the early nineties and all of that paperwork is intact including letters and travel documents.
Mechanically it is superb and the car needs absolutely nothing aside from its daily maintenance if it is to be used for vintage tours.
One note to be made. If you are the lucky new owner of this incredible car you can take great pleasure in the fact that you are sitting on the same leather seats as its original owner sat upon when the photo of him was taken when the car was new.
1901 De Dion Bouton Vis a Vis
The absolutely stunning 1901 De Dion Bouton 4 ½ HP Voiturette is a three owner car and we have a wonderful photograph of the first owner at speed driving it. We also have framed the cap he is wearing in that picture.
While there are a few cars of its make and vintage in existence this one stands apart for its continuous history and the fact that it is completely original and unrestored while remaining in perfectly useable condition. Even the leather upholstery is the original and in a fairly close examination I just noticed one small deficiency, a missing grease cup on the rear axle which has no doubt vibrated itself off at some point in the cars 109 year existence.
As a 1901 car it qualifies as a contender in the famous London to Brighton race held each year in England during England's sunniest and warmest month, November. It was in our minds when we decided to purchase it that it might be fun to fly it over and enter it and in examining the huge volume of paper work that accompanies the car it would be its second appearance. It ran he race in 1992 and evidently finished it quite handily.
Now as I stated the car develops 4 and a half horsepower and this is from its monstrous single cylinder power house which is tucked tidily away over its rear axle. This engine relies on its owner to supply all of its requirements such as spark advance and retard, mixture and believe it or not compression.
Unlike just about all cars ever made where more gas means more speed, the De Dion relies on a valve opening and closing in the combustion chamber and this is controlled by a foot pedal. When you are cruising you hold the pedal about half way down and the cylinder bleeds off some of its compression which lowers the fuel use and noise. When an obstacle like a hill is approached the driver advances the spark and removes his foot from the pedal assuring the closure of the valve and thus developing the most power. Once over the hill and now requiring little power the driver then pushes the pedal down opening the valve, retards the spark to save gas and cool the cylinder and if pushed all the way down the pedal engages the car's brakes to slow or stop. If a sudden stop is warranted then a hand control lever is thrown taking the car out of gear and allowing it to stop without stalling. Passing horses is done with the pedal down to avoid noise.
Another small pedal rings the bell to warn people that a hazard approaches if they can't hear it popping and snuffling.
Oil is administered in two small brass tubes that feed the engine and differential and which must be checked and replenished often as the oil is only used once and then falls out. All the many and varied grease cups and fittings along with light oil oiling have to be administered to before each drive and the water topped up though a hole under the front seat which incidentally faces backwards so that passengers can chat with the driver.
The car is started with a crank handle on the side and the choke and gas can be adjusted there while starting. This is just a brief description of what is required to make for a successful trip in the De Dion and you have to be ready for some fairly major repairs along the road.
So I dare you to try all this while drinking coffee and talking on the cell phone.