The Dragonfly

1904 La Libellule V-Twin Tricar

Offered by Bonhams | London, U.K. | November 3, 2017

Photo – Bonhams

Every year at this sale it seems like Bonhams manages to consign at least one car from a marque that has such an obscure history that no one really knows anything about it.

Enter La Libellule, or The Dragonfly. These early three-wheeled forecars were available from a number of manufacturers. It was essentially a motorcycle with two wheels at the front that support a wicker basket that you could plop an easily-influenced friend (or enemy) into. It’s like having a sidecar, but in front of you.

Not much is known about this company other than no records of it really exist prior to 1906, which is why this is listed as a “circa 1904” in the catalog. It’s had three owners since 1921 and has been in the same collection since about 1960. The restoration dates to the 1980s, when it first competed in the London-to-Brighton run. It should bring between $27,000-$33,000 today. Click here for more info and here for more from this amazing sale.

Update: Sold $42,211.

Riley Tricar

1904 Riley Tricar

For Sale at Hyman Ltd. | St. Louis, Missouri

Photo - Hyman Ltd.

Photo – Hyman Ltd.

Riley was founded in 1890 in Coventry, England, to build bicycles. Their first car came in 1898, making them one of England’s oldest car manufacturers. Motorcycles came first, so the Tricar was a natural step between two and four-wheeled vehicles.

The first Tricar was sold in 1900 and four-wheelers didn’t come along until 1905. This Tricar uses a steering wheel instead of a tiller, which was common on early cars. The engine is a V-Twin. The restoration is described as “older” but it looks fantastic.

The final Riley cars were built in 1969. BMW currently owns the marque and hasn’t revived it. This interesting car is currently for sale in St. Louis for somewhere near $100,000. Click here for more info.

Phoenix Tricar

1904 Phoenix 4.5HP Tricar

Offered by Bonhams | London, U.K. |  October 31, 2014

Photo - Bonhams

Photo – Bonhams

Remember when cars were simple and passengers rode in wicker baskets in front of you, acting as both windscreen and front bumper? Well, yeah, it was a little before my time, too, but isn’t it interesting? Luckily it has three wheels, so you can register it as a motorcycle and you won’t have to worry about any of those pesky crash test standards.

The Phoenix Motor Company was founded by J. Van Hooydonk in London in 1903. They built bicycles, motorcycles and even a few more standardized motor cars through 1925. This tricar is powered by a 477cc twin making 4.5 horsepower.

Ownership history goes back a decade or two and it’s eligible for nearly all early car events and runs. It stands as an interesting insight into what once was thought as practical transport. It can be yours for between $24,000-$32,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $36,729.

Update: Sold, Bonhams London-to-Brighton $40,213.