Le Papillon Bleu

1901 Panhard et Levassor 7hp Twin-Cylinder Rear-Entrance Tonneau

Offered by Bonhams | London, U.K. | November 1, 2019

Photo – Bonhams

This is a car with a story. It was ordered new by Chevalier Rene de Knyff, a Belgian who happened to be one of the most successful racing drivers of his era. He won five of the 18 races he entered between 1897 and 1903. And remember, in those days, a race was held between two cities.

He also happened to be the president of Panhard after Mr. Levassor’s death in 1897. He drove Panhards in competition and ordered this one especially for himself. It is said that the car was one of the most well-built Panhards of its day, with de Knyff putting his best people on its assembly.

Power is from a seven-horsepower twin-cylinder engine, likely of 1.6-liters in capacity. The body is from J. Rothschild. The car is finished in light blue over a bordello-esque gorgeous red cloth. Named The Blue Butterfly, the car was purchased from Panhard/de Knyff by an Englishman who paid an exorbitant sum, as de Knyff didn’t really want to sell it all.

Its trail goes quiet until the 1920s when it is made apparent by the car’s next owner that it is very much still road-registered. It competed in the inaugural London-to-Brighton commemorative run. In 1927. It did it again in 1928.

And it’s done it 60 more times, 25 of which over the last 27 years with its current owner. This was considered a racing car in its day, with a “semi-racing” engine and a “lightweight” body. Only 992 6/7HP Panhards were built, and this is likely the most well-traveled and most famous among them. It is expected to fetch between $250,000-$320,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $573,410.

Columbus Autobuggy

1907 Columbus 10HP Twin-Cylinder Autobuggy

Offered by Bonhams | Amelia Island, Florida | March 7, 2019

Photo – Bonhams

There were quite a few Columbus and Columbia-branded automobiles in the early days of motoring. The Columbus Electric was a fairly popular one, and there was another, completely separate “Columbus” that operated in 1913 and 1914. But this car was built by the Columbus Buggy Company, who could trace their history as a buggy manufacturer back to the Civil War-era.

This car is actually a relative to the Columbus Electric, as a few investors purchased the gasoline-powered side of the business in 1905. They sold gasoline-powered Columbus highwheelers like this in 1907 and 1908. The cars were engineered by none other than Eddie Rickenbacker and are powered by a 1.6-liter twin-cylinder engine making 10 horsepower.

They sold these for $750 before moving on the Firestone-Columbus, a more modern automobile. This car has rope drive and, it would appear, a whip in case it all goes to hell and you need a horse to pull you. That, or to scare children and/or peasants out the way. This car should sell for between $30,000-$50,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $62,750.

1894 Peugeot

1894 Peugeot Type 5 2½HP Twin-Cylinder Two-Seater

Offered by Bonhams | London, U.K | November 2, 2018

Photo – Bonhams

This is the type of car I love to write about. It is right up there among the oldest cars ever featured on this site (though Bonhams refers to it as an “1894-5”). Peugeot built their first car in 1889. This car carries chassis number 164, making it a pretty early car. They built 40 cars in 1894, and 72 in 1895. This sounds basic, but they were the first company to put rubber tires on their cars.

The Type 5 is powered by a 1.0-liter V-twin making 2.5 horsepower – a Daimler design built under license by Panhard et Levassor. It is believed that Peugeot retained this car for over a year before selling it and it could’ve actually been completed sometime in late 1893, but it wasn’t officially sold until 1895. It is also thought that this could be one of five famous Type 5 cars used in a Paris-Rouen race in 1894.

Only 14 examples of the Type 5 were built. This one still runs, drives, and is used – as it is entered in this year’s London-to-Brighton run. This is as much a piece of history as it is a usable car. It’s the type of thing you only see in factory museums. This car is estimated to bring between $400,000-$530,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $463,202.

Twin-Cylinder Star

1904 Star 7HP Twin-Cylinder Two-Seater

Offered by Bonhams | London, U.K. | November 2, 2018

Photo – Bonhams

Star, like many early motor manufacturers, got their start as a cycle company. Edward Lisle’s company produced its first car in 1898, and by the time WWI broke out, the company was one of Britain’s largest automobile companies.

Introduced in 1900, the twin-cylinder Star was one of a few models the company was producing that were based on the pioneering designs of Panhard and Mercedes. It’s powered by a 1.4-liter straight-twin producing seven horsepower.

This car cost £320 when new and should bring between $110,000-$130,000 early next month. It has participated in the London-to-Brighton run multiple times and can be your ticket into that event too. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $113,559.

1902 Liberia

1902 Liberia 12HP Twin-Cylinder 2/4-Seater Detachable Tonneau

Offered by Bonhams | London, U.K. | November 2, 2018

Photo – Bonhams

Gustave Dupont founded his car company in 1900 near Paris, in a commune of which he was the mayor. Dupont himself drove his cars in competitive events and rallies, never doing well, but always finishing. Liberias were on display at 1901 Paris Motor Show, but the company was bankrupt before the end of 1902.

All Liberia automobiles used one of two Aster engines. This car uses the larger, 12 horsepower Aster twin-cylinder unit. The body was built by the little-known Carrosserie L. Barjou. The catalog calls this a c.1902 Dupont-Liberia, but reference materials list it simply as “Liberia,” with Dupont being the man behind the curtain, as it were.

This example is one of two known examples of the marque to still exist, and as you can see it is in a condition that certainly looks original, even though it may have been repainted at some point in the past and wears replacement tires. As a rare survivor, it should bring between $160,000-$180,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $149,420.

Ford Model F

1906 Ford Model F Twin-Cylinder Side-Entrance Tonneau

Offered by Bonhams | Hillegom, Netherlands | June 23, 2018

Photo – Bonhams

The first Ford, the Model A, was a two-cylinder car. In 1904 they introduced their first four-cylinder, which carried over into 1905. 1906 would see Ford launch their first six-cylinder car, but they still introduced a new two-cylinder car in 1905. That is the Model F. It would be Ford’s last two-cylinder car after it exited production at the end of 1906.

Only two Model F body styles were offered in 1905 and just this, the two-door, four-passenger touring car, carried over to 1906. It’s powered by a 2.1-liter flat-twin making 16 horsepower, a good jump over earlier 10 horsepower twins. Fun note on the Model F: you know how Ford was famous for only selling black Model Ts? Well, to adjust the famous phrase, “you can get a Model F in any color you want so long as it’s green.” Kind of weird, yeah? It’s like Henry bought his paint in bulk and used it exclusively until it was gone.

The Model F was a strong seller but, even with its advanced price, they did not survive. It’s thought that less than 50 remain today of the 1,250 sold in two years of production. This car was delivered new to Iowa where it remained for some time. The restoration dates to the late 1990s, right before it was added to the current museum collection in the Netherlands. When new this was an $1,100 car and it should bring between $47,000-$64,000 today. Click here for more info and here for more from this awesome sale.

Update: Sold $109,840.

Panhard Wagonette

1899 Panhard et Levassor Type M2F 6HP Twin-Cylinder Wagonette

Offered by Bonhams | Amelia Island, Florida | March 8, 2018

Photo – Bonhams

In today’s market, the hot segment is SUVs, particularly small SUVs. Mazda has the CX-5, Honda has the CR-V, and Toyota has the RAV4 (among many, many others). But think back to just prior to the turn of the century (as if any of us were there). There were a fair number of automakers and they were all competing for business. But they all produced completely different vehicles, right? Well, apparently, in the late 1890s, the Wagonette was a popular segment to be in. Check out this Daimler (and this one) and this Fisson. Who knew?

This Type M2F Wagonette is powered by a 1.7-liter straight-twin making six horsepower. It is thought that it was discovered alongside two other extremely old cars in France in the 1960s. The restoration on this car is a few decades old, but it’s seen continual use (such as the at the London-to-Brighton run) and has been kept in very nice condition.

There are some of these out there, but I’m not sure how many were actually built. It is one of very few early Panhards in the U.S. and is a great example of what was once a popular car. It should bring between $250,000-$350,000. Click here for more info and here for more from Bonhams.

Update: Not sold.

Schaudel Tonneau

1901 Schaudel 10HP Twin-Cylinder Four-Seat Rear-Entrance Tonneau

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

Photo – Bonhams

Charles Schaudel’s little French car company lasted a very brief time. He built his first car in 1900 and by 1902 he had sold out to his brother-in-law, who changed the name of the company to Motobloc (which lasted until 1931).

The engine is a 10 horsepower two-cylinder unit that is mounted transversely (and, with its gearbox configuration, it is noted in the catalog that this car sports the same drivetrain layout as the original Mini). The engine was rebuilt in 2016 after taking part in 12 London-to-Brighton runs, which means it is fresh and ready to go this year.

Only two Schaudel-branded automobiles are known to exist and this one has appeared on British television on multiple occasions. This is a pretty awesome find from a really obscure company. There’s really no reason something made in such limited numbers should still exist, but we’re sure glad it does. This one should bring between $170,000-$210,000 at auction. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $192,834.

Update: Sold, Bonhams London-to-Brighton 2018, $156,891.

1902 Ader

1902 Ader Twin-Cylinder V-Twin Four-Seater

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

Photo – Bonhams

France really was at the center of the early days of the automobile industry. While the U.S. and the U.K. also produced many different brands of cars, France had the first giants. While Clément Ader’s may not have been a giant, it did produce a range of vehicles between 1900 an 1907.

The first Ader’s were powered by the 904cc V-twin engine that this car likely shares (Ader offered a 1.6-liter V-twin as well). Ader also built four-cylinder cars and even an early V-8. This sort of technical prowess is understandable from a guy who set up the Parisian telephone system and designed a steam-powered airplane.

This example was discovered in the 1960s, rescued, and restored. The current owner acquired the car from the rescuer and “refurbished” it again. The body is not original, but it is period-correct. Ready to run, this Ader carries a pre-sale estimate of $110,000-$130,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $117,221.

1898 Germain

1898 Germain 6HP Twin-Cylinder Open Drive Limousine

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

Photo – Bonhams

We’ve featured an impressive amount of pre-1900 automobiles on this site and this car looks many years newer than some of them. Ateliers Germain was founded in 1897 in the Belgian town on Monceau-sur-Sambre. They specialized in building other cars under license, such as those from Renault and Panhard et Levassor.

This car is similar to a Panhard of the day, which isn’t surprising as Germain was one of a few Belgian companies who bought some early cars (among them, a Panhard) to study them in order to launch Belgium’s own automobile industry. This car was the company’s prototype and it’s powered by a six horsepower, two-cylinder engine.

They stopped building cars after WWI and turned to railcars. They merged into another company in the 1960s and ceased to exist thereafter. But until they became defunct, they managed to hang on to this car, their first. It’s first owner acquired it in 1964 and the current owner bought it about 20 years ago. Restored as needed over time, this car is a miraculous survivor. It should bring between $200,000-$290,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $295,610.