1904 De Dion Bouton Model Y 6hp Rear-Entrance Tonneau Registration no. AA 863 Engine no. 16308
By 1904 De Dion Bouton was firmly established as Frances most prolific motor car manufacturer, their fast-revving engines having set new standards in engine design at the turn of the century. Early rear-engined models, driving through a system of gears to the rear wheels and featuring the renowned De Dion rear axle, gave way to a new generation of front-engined cars for the 1902 season, again single cylinder models with atmospheric inlet valve and mechanical exhaust valve. These engines were so successful that De Dion sold them to many other manufacturers and had they simply sold engines alone, the De Dion Bouton operation would still have been a very substantial enterprise. De Dions sliding cone gearbox was virtually foolproof for the first time car driver, (making this an ideal car for the first time veteran motorist), the fast-revving engines were supremely reliable and De Dion back-up and service was second-to-none. The number of surviving cars is testimony to their popularity and build quality.
This 6hp Model Y features delightful original rear-entrance tonneau coachwork by Philippon of Neuilly and is magnificently presented in maroon livery with black and yellow coachlining. In De Dion circles it is widely regarded as the most elegant of all four-seaters and is the recognised standard for those creating replica coachwork to strive to achieve they mostly fail! It has an outstanding and long history in the UK, being first registered here in 1935, participating in many early VCC events and is illustrated in the VCC 50 Year's Pictorial History at a small gathering of dedicated owners and their cars in 1949.
Since 1948 it has participated in every London to Brighton Veteran Car Run, with the exception of 1976 when the then owner had flu. In 2002 Bonhams Chairman, Robert Brooks, drove this car to Brighton, achieving a complete run and commenting on the lusty way it climbed Clayton Hill, and indeed all others, with a full complement of passengers. It has previously been diplayed at The Shuttleworth Collection at Old Warden, but has been by no means a static museum exhibit, having taken part in several Continental rallies over the years.
In previous ownership, and not too many miles ago, work carried out to maintain this car in excellent running order has included the fitting of a new petrol tank, overhaul of the cooling system and rebuild of the water tank. Chassis springs have been overhauled and the gearbox and steering mechanism re-conditioned. Tyres and tubes have covered very little mileage and a practical feature for early starts in Hyde Park includes the fitting of cycle-type front and rear electric lamps. AA 863 is magnificently furnished also with brass oil lamps and boa constrictor bulb horn.
This highly original veteran comes from meticulous and demanding ownership, all cars in the stable being maintained in on the button condition, and is offered with a most useful set of spares to assist the new owner in most roadside emergencies, an impressive history file recording its history and work carried out, VCC Dating Certificate No. 197, current MoT certificate, road fund licence and old and new style registration documents.
Here is a veteran car not only presented in good running order and capable of completing the longer motoring event, but also a serious contender in concours delegance gatherings a car not only admirably catered for by the Veteran Car Club of Great Britain, but also highly eligible for the exceedingly attractive Continental veteran events and now also looked after here by the recently formed De Dion Bouton Club UK.