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Oldest Running Auto

The world's oldest running auto goes up for auction.

Andy Bolig - September 22, 2011 02:09 PM

ImagePhoto courtesy RM Auctions

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The world’s oldest running motor car, a historic 1884 De Dion Bouton et Trepardoux Dos-a-Dos Steam Runabout (pictured) will cross the auction podium next month as part of RM Auctions’ popular Hershey, Pennsylvania sale (October 6 – 7, 2011).

Commissioned by French entrepreneur, Count de Dion, and built by Georges Bouton and Charles-Armand Trepardoux, the 1884 De Dion steamer was nicknamed ‘La Marquise’ after the Count de Dion’s mother.  Measuring just nine feet in length, ‘La Marquise’ features twin compound steam engines, ‘spade handle’ steering and seats four people ‘dos-a-dos’ (back-to-back). The seats are located on top of the steel tank, which holds 40 gallons of water, good for about 20 miles; its sophisticated boiler, fed by coal or coke, can be steamed in 45 minutes.

With just four owners from new, including 81 years in single ownership, La Marquise boasts an impressive provenance – it was a participant in the first automobile race in 1887, clocking a top speed of 37 mph on the straights, and a double award-winner at the 1997 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. A fully functioning car, it recently successfully completed four London to Brighton runs in the UK where it was always the first car away as the oldest entry.

The remarkable 1884 De Dion leads an impressive roster of over 115 automobiles and a select range of memorabilia for the RM Hershey sale.  Held during the famed AACA Eastern Regional Fall Meet in Hershey, the sale boasts a strong track record for early, brass-era automobiles, achieving an unprecedented 100% sell-through in 2010.

Continuing RM’s reputation as the specialists for private and estate collections, additional sale highlights for the 2011 sale include a wonderful selection of eight rare American cars from the distinguished Nethercutt Collection, headlined by a handsome 1931 Studebaker President Eight Four-Seasons Roadster (Est. $60,000 - $70,000); and a well-documented 1927 Packard Six Five-Passenger Phaeton, the last of the big Packard Sixes (Est. $70,000 - $90,000).

The sale will also feature a fascinating collection of early electric vehicles, including a 1903 Columbia Electric Surrey, the only known survivor (Est. $70,000 - $90,000); a rare Swiss-built 1905 Tribelhorn Electric Brougham (Est. $70,000 - $90,000); and an unusual 1913 Argo Electric Fore-Drive Limousine (Est. $100,000 - $150,000).

In addition to the auction, RM returns as the presenting sponsor of this year’s Night at the Museum evening at Hershey’s AACA Museum. Scheduled for October 5 and themed ‘Celebrating the Motoring Hobby’, this year’s event provides a wonderful kick start to meet festivities, providing a casual atmosphere in which to mingle with fellow enthusiasts, enjoy live entertainment, and raise important funds to support the AACA group of families and its mission to preserve automotive history. For further details and ticket information, please visit www.nightatthemuseum.org.

Event Details

Night at the Museum (October 5, 2011)

AACA Museum

161 Museum Drive

Hershey, PA

Sale dates: (October 6, 2011 through October 7, 2011)

Location: Hershey Lodge, West Chocolate Avenue and University Drive, Hershey, Pennsylvania, 17033

Admission: Admission requires the purchase of an official auction catalog available for $80 US. The catalog admits two and must be presented at the entrance of the sale to be granted entry. For those unable to attend the event in person, Internet, absentee, Smartphone and telephone bidding options are available, and the auction will stream live online at www.rmauctions.com, providing real-time coverage of the event.

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