1903 De Dion Bouton Model Q 6hp Two-Seat Victoria Registration no. TBA Engine no. 11374
For the 1902 season a new genre of front-engined De Dion Bouton cars was introduced in 6hp and 8hp engine sizes, as with their predecessors comprising single-cylinder cars with atmospheric inlet valve and mechanical exhaust valve. De Dion's gearbox was simplicity itself and virtually foolproof for the first time car driver. The fast revving engines were supremely reliable for the time and De Dion Bouton service and back-up was second-to-none. The number of surviving cars is testimony to their popularity and build quality.
The De Dion we offer here has a known history in the UK that stretches back to the early 1920s, when it was registered in the name of Thomas Goodier of Sale in Cheshire under the license MB 3731. Goodier is listed in 1900s census documents as a 'cycle builder' and later engineer, and it is surmised that as an engineering enthusiast he rescued the De Dion after the First World War and that it most probably had resided in the Cheshire region from its earliest days.
The car's pre-war history is not charted beyond this, until it surfaced in the later 1940s when it was acquired by known exponent of the marque AT Seaton of Loughborough. In its VCC dating application in this period, the car can clearly be seen to have been freshly discovered, and scruffy, but complete. According to last but one owner 'Billy' Norman of Hayling Island the De Dion is understood to have been found by Seaton 'hanging' from the rafters of a barn in Yorkshire.
Mr Seaton freshened the Model Q and was seen on the London to Brighton in 1954, which it appears to have completed, as a photo on file shows it speeding along Madeira Drive that year. This was to be the first of many successful trips to Brighton, the car passed to Mr Norman shortly after this and he would campaign it most years on the London to Brighton. It was also run on a VCC event in Hayling Island in this period. Numerous images offered with the car show its active eventing career, Mr Norman running the car often with his mother and later with friend Peter Tombs. The car also features on a full page of Veteran and Vintage Cars by Peter Roberts. Towards the end of the 1990s, Mr Norman's health deteriorated, and the car was offered for sale at auction in 1998. At this point it was acquired by the former owner who successfully re-commissioned it and once again the car successfully ran down to Brighton that same year. At this point its original 'MB' registration number was separated from the car.
In 1999 the car passed into the present family ownership. Over the course of the last 13 years, the car's history has been re-established and documented and it has progressively been cosmetically refurbished and mechanically maintained, all the while being used on events and for fun. Most notably, its upholstery was redone by noted expert Anne Taylor in the early 2000s, in 2006 its gearbox was rebuilt and in 2010 Bob Hawthornthwaite repainted the car. While being repainted a decision was made to strip the bodywork back to its base, at which point it was established that the oldest coats were varnish, and that it most probably had been finished this way as new. This tied in with its 1920s registration record, which lists its colour as 'Walnut'. For this reason, and because the wood was found to be in very good condition, it was simply left in varnished form, the moldings painted black and wings matt black. Following this most recent refurbishment it was displayed at Bonhams' Veteran car exhibition at the Grand Palais in 2011.
In 2012, the car has returned to noted engineer Chris Petty for an overhaul of its engine, and was recently run in over the annual VCC Creepy Crawly rally. It has completed all of the last 14 London to Brighton Veteran Car Runs without complication and is entered for this year's event. It is also eligible for events of the Veteran Car Club and the De Dion Bouton Club UK. This is an attractively presented, ready to use De Dion Bouton with a well documented history.