1901 De Dion-Bouton 4½hp Motorette  Chassis no. 159

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Lot 56*
1901 De Dion-Bouton 4½hp Motorette
Chassis no. 159

Sold for £ 69,000 (US$ 81,961) inc. premium
1901 De Dion-Bouton 4½hp Motorette
Chassis no. 159
*Jewel-like veteran car, sympathetically restored
*Excellent long-term California provenance
*Long time exhibit in the 'Flying Lady Museum'
*Eligible for the London to Brighton Veteran Car Run

Footnotes

  • Kenneth Skinner was the man behind the marketing of a De Dion-Bouton inspired product in the USA, marketing the cars as Motorettes. A very large percentage of the Skinner car was built in the USA, many of the parts being cast with 'NY' next to their numbers, while most of the aluminium castings have Motorette cast into them. Sadly, demand was not as strong as that in Europe, and despite a variety of prompt revisions, including larger engines such as the 4½hp unit fitted to this car, the company seems to have failed within a year. It is estimated that only a few hundred cars were built. There are a few survivors dotted around the USA in prominent collections such as the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan; Harrah's Collection in Reno, Nevada; and the Seal Cove Auto Museum in Maine.

    This example is believed to have had very few owners. Retaining an original 1905 California license brass disc, which dates from the earliest period of motor vehicle licensing in that state, the car is believed to have been in California for most of its life. By the 1970s it was still in California and now belonged to Irv Perch, a serial entrepreneur who made his fortune with the Aristocrat Trailer Co. In 1969 he opened a museum devoted to aviation and road transport, called the 'Flying Lady Museum', which featured a number of transportation icons. The De Dion was certainly exhibited there.

    In July 1983 the car was sold by Perch to Ed Morgan of Scotts Valley, California, who would keep it for the next 17 years, and in whose custody it received a sympathetic restoration and regular use. Chassis number '159' displays many of the hallmark features of the American-built De Dions, such as the front seat's fold-down back; 'Brooklyn'-engraved engine and gearbox oilers; Motorette chassis plate; and On/Off switch. Benefited from a thorough cosmetic refurbishment, with relatively new paint, exquisite button-back upholstery, and nickel brightwork, the car is presented in good and accurate condition. The Key Collection purchased the De Dion at Bonhams' Quail Lodge sale in August 2012 (Lot 427). This charming De Dion is, of course (subject to official dating) eligible for various Horseless Carriage Club events in the USA as well as the famed London to Brighton Veteran Car Run in the UK.

    Should the vehicle remain in the UK, local import taxes of 5% will be added to the hammer price.
Contacts
1901 De Dion-Bouton 4½hp Motorette  Chassis no. 159
1901 De Dion-Bouton 4½hp Motorette  Chassis no. 159
1901 De Dion-Bouton 4½hp Motorette  Chassis no. 159
1901 De Dion-Bouton 4½hp Motorette  Chassis no. 159
1901 De Dion-Bouton 4½hp Motorette  Chassis no. 159
1901 De Dion-Bouton 4½hp Motorette  Chassis no. 159
1901 De Dion-Bouton 4½hp Motorette  Chassis no. 159
1901 De Dion-Bouton 4½hp Motorette  Chassis no. 159
1901 De Dion-Bouton 4½hp Motorette  Chassis no. 159
1901 De Dion-Bouton 4½hp Motorette  Chassis no. 159
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