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Lot 317: De Dion Bouton Type DX Touring

The Beaulieu Sale, Bonhams (7 September 2013)

The names of De Dion and Bouton are inextricably linked with the pioneer years of the motor car, initially in company with Trépardoux in the building of light steam carriages, the first of which appeared in 1883. In the early 1890s De Dion and Bouton turned their attention to the internal combustion engine, much to the annoyance of Trépardoux who quit in 1894, leaving his erstwhile partners to develop what was, in effect, the first high-speed internal combustion engine. Engineer Bouton's power units developed significantly greater output than their contemporaries from Daimler and Benz yet matched them for reliability. Small wonder then that De Dion Bouton engines were adopted by many other manufacturers of tricycles, quadricycles and light cars, both in Europe and the United States, influenced no doubt by the success of the flying tricycles in such events as the Paris-Bordeaux and other endurance races. Early De Dions were rear engined and of the vis-à-vis type – where the passengers sat facing the driver – but from 1902 onwards the firm began to adopt what would become accepted as the conventional layout for a motor car. In 1905 De Dion began to build four-cylinder engines, expanding its range to include larger, more powerful and luxurious models while diversifying into the manufacture of commercial and agricultural vehicles. Modular design enabled De Dion to offer a wide variety of engines using only a limited number of components and by 1912 there were models powered by single-, twin- and four-cylinder power units, as well as the world's first series-produced V8. The 1913 De Dion Bouton Type DX Touring car offered here previously formed part of the celebrated collection belonging to the late Richard C Paine Jr and was purchased from Bonhams' sale of the collection at the Owls Head Transportation Museum in Maine, USA in September 2008 (Lot 850). Right-hand drive, like the majority of French automobiles of the period, it is powered by De Dion's 1,642cc four-cylinder sidevalve engine rated at 10.8 horsepower by the RAC formula. The threshold plates are inscribed 'De Dion Bouton (1907) Ltd, London' while the presence of a Lucas acetylene generator, 'King's Own' acetylene headlamps and 'King of the Road' side lamps and, together with a Smiths speedometer calibrated in miles, is further confirmation that the car was delivered in the UK. It is not known when it arrived in North America. Finished in beige with black wings and a beige canvas interior, it is equipped with varnished wood spoke wheels, 'SMA' trumpet horn and full weather equipment including a beige cloth top and side curtains. Suspension is by beam axle at the front and live axle at the rear with semi-elliptical front springs and ¾-elliptical rear springs. There are expanding shoe drum brakes at the rear. The 2009 sale catalogue states that the largely original car had been given a complete cosmetic refurbishment 'some time ago and has been preserved in complete condition in the Seal Cove Museum but is aged and in need of comprehensive attention.' The timber body trim appeared sound and the body sound and straight, the doors closing well. Apparently well maintained mechanically, the vehicle has been kept in museum storage since acquisition. De Dions are renowned for the quality and longevity of their engines, which should make the restoration of this elegant example a most rewarding project.

Lot Details
Auction The Beaulieu Sale
Bonhams, Hampshire, UK
Lot Number317
Outcome SOLD
Hammer Price£13500
Hammer Price (inc premium)£15525
Condition rating2
Registration number
Chassis number337
Engine number11035C
Engine capacity (cc)
Engine - cylinders
Number of doors