Published October 10, 2011
A vehicle purported to be the world’s oldest running motor car has sold for $4.62 million dollars.
At the RM Auctions in Hershey, Pennsylvania this past Saturday, the steam-powered 1884 De Dion Bouton et Trepardoux Dos-a-Dos Steam Runabout attracted a winning bid of $4.2 million, more than twice what it was expected to fetch. A 10 percent fee was added to the price, adding $420,000 to the grand total.
The four-seat car, known as “Le Marquise” after its creator’s mother, predates by two years the official birth of the automobile in 1886, when Karl Benz was granted the first patents for his purpose-built gasoline-powered car.
Steam-powered automobiles date back to at least the mid-18th century, and several cars older than the De Dion still exist, but aren’t functional. However, one that was built in the U.K. in 1875 by Robert Neville Grenville and is currently housed at the National Motor Museum of Britain makes a rival claim to the title of “oldest running motor car.” The auction listing for “Le Marquise” mentions the Grenville, but describes it as “basically a powered gun carriage.” A representative of the National Motor Museum tells FoxNews.com that is incorrect, and that the vehicle was intended for personal transportation and can carry four passengers. It was last seen up and running only a few weeks ago.
However, unlike “La Marquise,” which runs on four spoked wheels with rubber tires and has a self-fired steam-engine, Grenville’s vehicle requires a ride-along fireman to tend to the boiler and has three solid wooden wheels with metal tires, so its looks less like a modern automobile.
“Le Marquise” is said to have a top speed of 37 mph, more than triple what Benz’ car could achieve. Its new owner is just the fifth in its long history. It is not known yet if it will join a private collection or be put on public display.