Friday, October 7, 2011

"going once... going twice... SOLD!"

Break open those piggy banks, Victorian machine enthusiasts.  Today RM Auctions will be auctioning off a one-of-a-kind steam-powered vehicle: the 1884 De Dion Bouton Et Trepardoux Dos-a-Dos Steam Runabout, a.k.a. La Marquise.

"What is it?"  you may be asking yourselves.

Besides being one of the first horseless carriages invented, the vehicle that will be auctioned off in Hershey, PA is the oldest running car in the world.
image source: Autoweek
According to this article in Autoweek, the car's creation is a classic story of an incidental meeting that resulted in an investment that changed technology forever:
In December 1881, de Dion was shopping in Paris and stopped at the Giroux toy shop. He was looking for prizes to give away at a ball he was planning. De Dion loved the workmanship of the steam engines he saw and asked who built them.

De Dion was introduced to Georges Bouton and Charles-Armand Trepardoux, who were working at the shop making seven francs a day. He immediately hired them to build a bigger steam engine, one that could power a carriage.

After first adding a steam engine to a tricycle the pair went to work on adapting it to a four-wheeled machine. La Marquise was born.

The quadricycle sends power to the rear wheels with connecting rods, similar to a train locomotive. Steering was done through the front wheels, as opposed to the hard-to-control, rear-steer tricycle. Its sophisticated boiler can be steamed in just 45 minutes, a small amount of time for the era.
image source: Autoweek
For those interested in purchasing this usable piece of steam-powered history, be prepared to open your pockets wide.  RM expects La Marquise to go for $2 to $2.5 million.


  1. Ah if only I had 2.5 million lying around....
    I wonder if it is street legal, it might be difficult to get through the emissions inspection at the very least, but it sure would be cool to see that rolling through town.

  2. Mr. Kitty would love this! Looks like it went for much more than anticipated: $4,620,000!!!