De Dion-Bouton Type E Vis a Vis Voiturette

Count Albert de Dion was born of French noble descent and engineering genes. The historian Griffith Borgeson described him as “clever, amusing, the life of any party and universally popular…in spite of his ignobly eccentric part-time obsession with nasty steam engines.” The latter resulted in his partnership with Georges Trépardoux and Trépardoux’s brother-in-law Georges Bouton building steam-powered carriages. By 1885 they had built several successful machines.

In the early 1890s, however, the Count began to doubt the superiority of steam and started experimenting with internal combustion, designing two successful multi-cylinder units. In 1894 he designed a revolutionary single-cylinder engine of 137 cc capacity, boasting electric ignition and a then-amazing speed of 3,000 rpm.

By 1900, France had a burgeoning motor industry, the world’s foremost, with eleven manufacturers turning out nearly 5,000 cars and numerous independent assemblers selling motorcycles, tricycles and voiturettes composed of components from various manufacturers.

This car was auctioned off by RM Auctions in October of 2011 at the Battersea Evolution, London.

3.5 hp, 402 cc water-cooled single-cylinder engine, two-speed constant mesh gearbox with separate expanding clutches, solid front axle and De Dion tube rear axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs, mechanical gearbox brake and sprag brake. Wheelbase: 1,550 mm.

Source: RM Auctions

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