An American De Dion

1901 American De Dion New York Type Motorette

Offered by RM Auctions | Amelia Island, Florida | March 8, 2014

Photo - RM Auctions

Photo – RM Auctions

Jackpot. There are automobile manufacturers of the past that I know existed and I always assumed that any examples that still existed – if there were any at all – are locked away in permanent museums. And then along comes one at auction proving that the past does indeed survive.

De Dion-Bouton was one of the first automotive giants. Their empire was vast and they built many times more engines for other manufacturers (many of these were license deals) than they built cars. And they built a fair number of cars. In 1900, some businessmen in New York decided to build the De Dion-Bouton under license in Brooklyn. The American De Dion was built for 1900 and 1901 only before it was shut down for violating their license contract (they were of shoddy quality).

And the car you see here is one of what has to have been not too terribly many built and one of very few that likely survive. There were three American De Dion models offered and this is the New York Type (there was also a Brooklyn Type and a stodgy Doctor’s Brougham). The car uses De Dion’s famous 402cc single-cylinder engine making 3.5 horsepower.

This car was found in a barn in the 1960s – parasol top and all. In 1992 the engine was cleaned out and this all-original 101-year-old car completed the London-to-Brighton Run. The engine was rebuilt afterward but otherwise this car is as it left the factory – 113 years ago. It is incredible. You can buy it for between $140,000-$180,000. You can read more here and see more from RM here.

Update: Sold $115,500.

Kelsey Motorette

1911 Kelsey Motorette

For sale at Hyman Ltd | St. Louis, Missouri

1911 Kelsey Motorette

Carl Kelsey started selling cars off-and-on while in college in the early 1900s. Between 1910 and 1912 he built this, the Motorette. After spending a few years as a salesman for Maxwell, he started up the company again in 1920 and sold more traditional (read: four-wheeled) cars until 1924.

The car uses a mid-mounted flat-twin making 10 horsepower. The convertible top folds down, which gives this car a very strange appearance from behind. In all, about 200 Motorettes were built. This one has a meticulous restoration and is likely in nicer shape than when it was new.

I’ve posted prices for cars from this dealership before and got yelled at (by them). So I won’t tell you what they’re asking, but I will say it is right between $70,000-$80,000. In any event, I think you should buy it because it is very cool and looks like it would be a lot of fun to putter around in. You can find more here.

Pierce Motorette

1904 Pierce Motorette Model 8M Stanhope

Offered by Bonhams | Paris, France | February 7, 2013

1904 Pierce Motorette Model 8M Stanhope

George N. Pierce started manufacturing vehicles at the end of 1900. The company would later become Pierce-Arrow (1909), but at the time, Pierce was producing De Dion engines under license and small little cars like this. In fact, the Motorette was the first production model from Pierce.

It uses a single-cylinder engine (of eerily similar design to the De Dion engine they had previously been paying royalties to manufacture under license) making eight horsepower. The stanhope bodystyle is interesting – the driver is in the rear and the passengers sit up front in an expandable front seat. It’s like a reverse rumble seat.

This car is largely original – it has been “refreshed” in the past after sitting for a while in order to take part in the London to Brighton Run. It has been in museums and large private collections, including James Melton’s Autorama. This rare car is a great example of George Pierce’s smaller, earlier cars. It should sell for between $66,000-$85,000. Click here for more info, and here for more from Bonhams.

Update: Sold $80,100.