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.

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.

One of the First Riley Cars

1905 Riley 9HP V-Twin

Offered by Brightwells | Bicester, U.K. | April 5, 2017

Photo – Brightwells

In 1896, William Riley Jr. bought and renamed the Bonnick Cycle Company and began building bicycles under his own name. In 1898, his 16-year-old son Percy built his first automobile, which is pretty incredible. William wanted no part of this, so Percy and two of this brothers started their own company in 1902. Four-wheeled vehicles first appeared in 1905, making this one of the first Riley cars ever built. The last Riley car was sold in 1969 and BMW owns the dormant marque today.

Powered by a nine horsepower, 1.0-liter V-twin, this early Riley is thought to have been sold new in New Zealand. It wasn’t until 2009 that it returned home to England. Its restoration was completed over a 30 year period (!) that ended in 2004.

Only three 1905, 9HP Rileys are known to exist and with the lack of records kept, this could be the earliest known survivor. It could even be the first Riley built. It does run and drive and is being sold with its own covered trailer included. It should bring between $57,000-$63,500. Click here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $47,196.