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.