De Dion-Bouton Classic Cars for Sale

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De Dion-Bouton

French vehicle manufacturer De Dion-Bouton was founded by Georges Bouton, Charles Trépardoux and the Marquis Jules-Albert de Dion in 1883. As well as automobiles, the company built railcars up until 1932. The company was regarded as the biggest in the world for a short period and was well respected internationally for making machines that were durable, reliable and very high quality.

The history of De Dion-Bouton

De Dion-Bouton built its first steam car in 1883. The design was flawed, and the car caught fire during trials. The following year The Marquise, which had more conventional rear wheel drive and steering, was constructed as a four-seat saloon. This car recorded speeds of just under 40mph and survives today in events such as the London to Brighton Car Run for veterans.

As well as the successful manufacture of steam tricycles and tractors, another two cars were created in 1885, along with a succession of 2-cylinder lightweight vehicles, which used Michelin pneumatic tyres. De Dion-Bouton made steam buses, trucks and cars up until 1904, although, by 1889 the directors were convinced that the way ahead lay with the internal combustion engine.

In 1885, De Dion-Bouton manufactured a one-cylinder engine, which was fitted to a tricycle frame. By 1898, this had gone through several modifications of the drive shaft and gears to make it possible the world's first ever hot-rod.

A four-wheel car was produced alongside the three-wheeler and in 1900 the 'Model D' went on the market. The car had a very unusual design because the driver was in the rear seat, and the passengers at the front, facing him. The Model D continued its development through E, G, I and J. The model K that was the last in the line resembled a Renault in styling.

De Dion-Bouton in the USA

De Dion-Bouton Motorette began building cars in the US from 1901. These cars were built under licence from the mother company and were powered by 3.5 engines that were designed in the US. The venture into the US market only lasted for about a year as the cars had a reputation for being unreliable.

Expansion and stagnation of De Dion-Bouton

De Dion-Bouton was the biggest manufacturer of automobiles in the world in 1900. Among its successes was the production of the first ever mass-produced V8 engine. However, the company lost impetus after the First World War. Even though the V8 and new models were built, in 1927 the factory closed.

It reopened with the introduction of two new models. The Type LA and the LB. The LB was considered to be very expensive and did not sell well. There were rumours that De Dion-Bouton was going to be taken over by either Mercedes or Peugeot but this never materialised. Passenger car production ceased in 1932.