The names of De Dion and Bouton are inextricably linked with the pioneering years of the motor car, initially in company with Trépardoux in the building of light steam carriages, the first of which appeared in 1883. In the early 1890s De Dion and Bouton turned their attention to the internal combustion engine, much to the annoyance of Trépardoux who quit in 1894, leaving his erstwhile partners to develop what was, in effect, the first high-speed internal combustion engine.
Engineer Bouton's power units developed significantly greater output than their contemporaries from Daimler and Benz yet matched them for reliability. Small wonder then that De Dion Bouton engines were adopted by many other manufacturers of tricycles, quadri-cycles, and light cars, both in Europe and the United States, influenced no doubt by the success of the flying tricycles in events such as the Paris-Bordeaux and other endurance races.
This 8hp single-cylinder De Dion-Bouton was bought from the Italian Quattroruote Collection where it was on display until earlier this year. Consisting of a rolling chassis, engine, and drive train, it is of the so-called 'Panhard layout', embodying the now familiar arrangement - pioneered by the eponymous French manufacturer - of a front-mounted engine driving the rear axle via a clutch, gearbox and differential. Its 863cc single-cylinder engine is water-cooled and drives the rear wheels via a two-speed transmission. The gear lever is mounted on the steering column, while reverse gear is selected via a separate lever. There is no conventional accelerator, speed being regulated by means of a 'decelerator' pedal, which acts on the driveshaft via a clutch. The brake pedal operates the transmission brake, while the hand lever operates a rear-wheel brake.
While with the Quattroroute Collection, the De Dion was restored (circa 1990) as a bare chassis and drive train for display purposes. It appears to be a Model R, and is definitely one of De Dion's larger offerings as it has the transverse, rear-suspension leaf spring to compensate for the weight of four-seater coachwork. As such, it represents the ideal basis for a new body of period-correct design to the new owner's choice.
Recently, the car was serviced and the engine made to run, but it has not been driven yet. We are advised that everything seems to be in good order, and that finishing the car should be relatively easy, following which it will no doubt provide the next owner with many enjoyable outings on future London to Brighton Runs. Offered with a bill of sale.