An Automobile First
The very intriguing vehicle shown here, is known as the “worlds oldest running car” Built in 1884 by Georges Bouton and Charles Armand-Trepardoux,
it was commissioned for French entrepreneur Count Comte de Dion.
Measuring just 9 feet in length, this twin engine steam powered machine could hit a top speed of 60kph with a 30 km range. It can hold 4 people including driver, who would steer it with a “spade handle” control. Coal was used to fire up the water boiler to produce the steam required to propel this early machine. I guess you could say, the fuel could be found along the way and it was cheap at the time! The name on the side “Le Marquise” was the car’s nickname, named after Count de Dion’s Mother. The 1884 De Dion-Bouton & Trepardoux Steam Runabout could also be known as one of the first racing cars. It competed in the first known auto race which took place in 1887 starting in Paris, racing to Versailles and back again. It completed this trip in one hour and fourteen minutes over a 32KM distance. The car actually won as well, but not because it was the fastest, but due to the other entrants not being able to complete their projects and make it to the starting line! The car then raced solo as the show and test had to continue. This vehicle is very antiquated by today’s standards that’s for sure, but the carbon footprint this machine left was extremely small. This car was also built one year prior to Benz and Daimler inventing the internal combustion engine. To this day, the car has had only four owners and most recently sold at auction for $4,620,000 in 2011, a healthy sum for a kettle on wheels!
Written by Perry M. Mason
Photos courtesy of RM Auctions