Four-Wheel Leon Bollee

1905 Leon Bollee 45/50HP Roi-des-Belges Tourer

Offered by Mecum | Kissimmee, Florida | January 4-15, 2022

Photo – Mecum

Leon Bollee was a pioneer in the automotive field, as was his father, Amedee. The most common vehicles associated with Leon Bollee are the three-wheeled voiturettes from the 19th century.

But, Leon Bollee Automobiles actually built cars through 1923 before being taken over by Morris, who soldiered on with a hyphenated marque until 1931. This car is the oldest four-wheeled Leon Bollee car known to the Veteran Car Club of Great Britain. That distinction leads one to believe that older four-wheeled cars could potentially exist elsewhere. Like in France. But who knows

It’s powered by an 8.3-liter inline-four rated at 50 horsepower. It’s got dual-chain drive and remained with the original owning family for 65 years. The restoration dates from the late 1980s/early 1990s. This is a big time early car, and you can read more about it here.

Update: Not sold.

1923 Léon Bollée

1923 Léon Bollée Type M Roadster

Offered by Leclere MDV | Avignon, France | March 25, 2018

Photo – Leclere MDV

The Bollée name is a very important one in the history of French automobiles. Amédée Bollée built some of the earliest steam cars beginning in 1873. Léon, his son, began building gasoline-powered cars in 1893. His Voiturettes are some of the best pre-1900 vehicles built.

And those are what people usually think of when they hear the name Bollée. But his company actually lived on for a few more decades (Léon died in 1913). In fact, in 1924, the company was purchased by Morris Motors of the U.K. as a way for Morris to break into the French market. It went just okay and production ended in 1928 and the French company closed in 1931.

This four-cylinder Type M is a four-door, five-passenger Roadster. If the entire car was restored (the interior definitely has been) it was done long ago, as the paint is showing its age. But where are you going to find another one? In the last decade, give or take, this is the first post-WWI Léon Bollée car that I can recall seeing (actually, it’s the first post-1900 Léon Bollée car that I can recall seeing). It should bring between $30,750-$37,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Not sold.

1896 Léon Bollée

1896 Léon Bollée Voiturette

Offered by RM Auctions | Nysted, Denmark | August 12, 2012

This is probably the final car we’ll be featuring from the Aalholm Automobile Collection sale that RM is holding mere days before the festivities in Monterey. There are at least 15 other cars from this sale that I wanted to feature but have just run out of time with the Monterey catalogs becoming available and the incredible offerings on hand.

This is right there with some of the most interesting from Monterey. It’s certainly older. The Bollée name is an important one in automotive history. Amédée Bollée, whose original goal was to set the record for most accented “e”s in a person’s name, ended up building some of the earliest road-going (as in, not on rails) steam carriages known. He built four steam cars, the first in 1873 and the last in 1881, which is mind-boggling. Two of these vehicles still exist in museums. Also: he resided in a little town called Le Mans.

Amédée had two sons: Amédée the second and Léon. Before cars, Léon spent his time inventing calculating machines – early calculators that resembled typewriters. In 1895 he founded Automobiles Léon Bollée in Le Mans. 1896 was the first year for the “Voiturette,” the interesting design you see here, which is from the first year of production. The single-cylinder engine was mounted horizontally beside and to the rear of the driver, who sat in back – the passenger(s) rode in the front, no doubt sometimes making it hard for the driver to see! It was also one of (if not the) first car to have rubber tires.

Larger cars followed in 1903 and the company was purchased from Léon’s widow in 1922 by Morris of England (Léon died in 1913). The Léon Bollée name disappeared from vehicles after 1933. There is a statue of Léon in his hometown of Le Mans on Avenue du Général Leclerc directly across and up the street from the train station. I’ve seen it and my traveling companions failed to see why it was interesting.

I’ve seen one of these vehicles before too – there is one in the National Automobile Museum in Reno (The Harrah Collection). It is an 1897. So you can own one that is older. These are extremely interesting cars from the pioneering days of motoring and while other examples do exist, it is genuinely rare. There are many interesting cars at this sale, but this tops them all. The price is estimated between $55,000-$60,000. That might not seem like a lot for a car I claim to be so fantastic, but that is because cars like this have limited potential for use, which is what keeps their price down (you can’t take it on a Sunday cruise and there is no outlandish coachwork that will bring you heaps of awards). Trust me, this thing is amazing (and it has been restored at some point, unlike many of the other cars at this sale).

For more pictures and the complete catalog description, click here. And to view the rest of the vehicles at this sale, click here.

Update: Sold $129,800.