The names of De Dion and Bouton are inextricably linked with the pioneer 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, quadricycles and light cars, both in Europe and the United States, influenced no doubt by the success of the flying tricycles in such events as the Paris-Bordeaux and other endurance races. Early 137cc engines ran at speeds of up to 1,500rpm, and the first internal combustion-engined tricycles were built in 1895. The 250cc engine of 1896 developed approximately 1¾hp and made the contemporary Benz engines seem positively antiquated.
Early De Dions were rear engined and of the vis-à-vis type where the passengers sat facing the driver but from 1902 onwards the firm began to adopt what would become accepted as the conventional layout for a motor car. By this time De Dion's fast revving, single-cylinder engines were offered in 4½hp, 6hp and 8hp variants. All featured mechanical inlet and atmospheric exhaust valves, and were noted for their reliability, which is borne out by the number surviving today.
We are advised by the Continental vendor that he purchased this De Dion tricycle from a collector who claimed that previously it had been in the possession of the original owner's family. Offered in need of restoration, the vehicle nevertheless has been preserved in highly original condition, the saddle in particular being quite rare and unusual. There are no documents with this Lot.
Spare Engine and Sundry Parts are available for viewing at the Documents Desk