World’s Oldest Running Car Sells For $4.6 Million At Auction
October 11, 2011

World’s Oldest Running Car Sells For $4.6 Million At Auction

The world´s oldest running car was sold for $4.6 million at a Pennsylvania auction late Friday, a price nearly twice as high as many expected.

The sale represents the highest price ever paid for an early automobile at auction, and includes a 10% "buyer's premium" which goes to the auction company, RM Auctions.

The identity of the new owner was not given.

RM Auctions listed the top speed of the De Dion-Bouton et Trepardoux Dos-a-Dos Steam Runabout, nicknamed "La Marquise”, at 38 miles per hour (61 kilometers per hour).   The car is fueled by coal, wood and paper, and takes about 30 minutes to work up enough steam to drive.

Built in France in 1884, the quadracycle has had only four previous owners over the past 127 years, RM Auctions said. 

The previous owner was the late Texas collector John O'Quinn, who purchased the historic car for $3.5 million at a Pebble Beach, Calif. auction in 2007.

The "La Marquise” had participated in what has been billed as the world's first automobile race in 1887, as well as four separate London-to-Brighton runs, RM Auctions said.

Another car, housed at the National Motor Museum of Britain, also claims the title of the world's oldest vehicle.  However, that vehicle only has three wheels and bears little resemblance to a modern cars. It was built in1875 by Robert Neville Grenville, and requires a second passenger to tend to the boiler. 

The four-wheeled De Dion-Bouton was built for the French Count De Dion -- one of the founders of the company that constructed it.  It was named "La Marquise" in honor of the count's mother.

"With impeccable provenance, fully documented history, and the certainty that this is the oldest running family car in the world, 'La Marquise' represents an unrepeatable opportunity for the most discriminating collector," read the catalog description of the vehicle.

"It is unquestionably and quite simply one of the most important motor cars in the world."


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