The world’s oldest car that is still in operation has been put to auction and is expected to fetch up to £1.6million.
The 1884 De Dion Bouton Et Trepardoux Dos-A-Dos Steam Runabout was commissioned for manufacture in France in 1881 for the Count De Dion, 12 years before Henry Ford assembled his first car.
The 127-year old steam vehicle, nicknamed ‘La Marquise’ as a tribute to the Count’s mother, is only 9 feet long, yet weighs 2100 pounds. It has a top speed of 38miles per hour.
The cars steam engine takes 45 minutes to generate enough steam to move and is powered by paper, wood and coal. The thin metal wheels are wrapped in solid rubber.
Auction house founder David Goodling said, “It feels like going 80 or 90 miles per hour in a newer automobile. And, by newer, I mean 1910.”
Expert motoring author David Burgess-Wise examined De Dion's creation in 1995 before quickly affirming its historic credentials as the oldest functioning motor.
One of the cars engineers Georges Bouton took part in the world's first motor car race, even winning the race, however that was always going to be the case as he was the only entrant.
Bouton averaged a speed of 16mph for the event from Paris to Versailles and even reached 37mph on the straight paths.
The Count De Dion held on to his prized asset until 1906, when he eventually parted company with it, selling it to French army officer Henri Doriol.
The Doriol family owned 'La Marquise' for 81 years but failed to get it running after it lost both copper and brass fittings following the war in 1914.
In 1987, a member of the British Veteran Car Club Tim Moore restored the car to working order and took part in several competitions in the vehicle, including four London-Brighton rides.
By Ben Malkin
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