1904 De Dion Bouton 8hp Rear-entrance Tonneau  Chassis no. 78 Engine no. 14225
Lot 204
1904 De Dion Bouton 8hp Rear-entrance Tonneau
Registration no. M 317
Sold for £88,860 (US$ 147,307) inc. premium
Lot Details
1904 De Dion Bouton 8hp Rear-entrance Tonneau
Registration no. M 317
Chassis no. 78
Engine no. 14225


  • Count Albert De Dion commissioned Messrs Bouton and Trépardoux, brothers-in-law and jobbing engineers, to build light steam carriages for him as early as 1882. In 1895 attention was switched to the fashionable new internal combustion engine and De Dion Bouton et Cie were marketing a diminutive petrol engined tricycle. These early tricycles were powered by Bouton's new, high speed, single cylinder, vertical engine which revved at almost twice the speed of the contemporary Daimlers. By 1899 the company was marketing a 3 1/2hp Voiturette, an all new generation of four wheel motor car with rear mounted engine driving through a system of gears to the rear wheels. With the new car came the renowned De Dion rear axle – then years ahead of its time. A larger 4 1/2hp engine was offered in the vis-à-vis models from 1900 and with this power unit the car had a comfortable running speed of 25mph although braking ability was a limiting factor.

    By 1904 De Dion Bouton was firmly established as France's 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 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 Dion's gearbox was virtually foolproof for the first time car driver, 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 and the single cylinder 8hp model of 1904 was the undoubted leader in its peer group.

    This car bears a Manchester registration number and, although its early history is not recorded, it is known that by the 1950s it belonged to VCC member Joe Hardcastle of County Garages, Scarborough – later to become Mayor of that borough. He used the car regularly, participating in the Hull to Scarborough Rally – in those days known as the 'London to Brighton of the North' – and other events. He sold the car in about 1970 and the subsequent owner restored the car well before passing it on in 1975 via a dealer to noted veteran car driver, John Bentley, who at that time had just obtained his driving licence. It was to be the first of a long line of notable veteran cars in that ownership and was driven spiritedly in many events including the London to Brighton Run.

    During that ownership the car was expertly converted from two-seater to four-seater configuration. In 1985 or so it came into the present family ownership, joining a collection of other interesting cars and machinery. It has taken part in every London to Brighton Run during this long ownership, failing to complete only once – an enviable record. In recent years it has been prepared for that run and maintained for its owner by ace vintage Aston Martin restorers Jim and Bruce Young. Following the owner's death in 2012 M 317 was driven to Brighton for one last time in his honour, completing the course in exemplary fashion as one would expect.

    M 317 is very smartly presented in green livery with excellent deep-buttoned black leather upholstery and varnished wooden wheels. It has been properly maintained in excellent mechanical order. It comes with the original rear luggage box should a new owner wish to run the car in its two seater configuration and is offered with its period oil lamps. It comes with a British registration document and will be licenced and MOT tested. Here is a very capable and relatively quick car, VCC dated (certificate no.434), and with a good history, eligible for all events organised by The Veteran Car Club of Great Britain and the De Dion Bouton Club UK and warmly welcomed at the increasingly popular Continental veteran runs.

Saleroom notices

  • We are delighted to confirm that this vehicle is entered into the London to Brighton Veteran Car Run on Sunday 3 November under entry number 319.
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  1. Sholto Gilbertson
    Specialist - Motor Cars
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