1902 De Dion Bouton Type K1 Industrielle de Levallois Hansom Cab

Out of the unlikely meeting in 1882 between Georges Bouton and Count Albert de Dion, in less than ten years a world famous automobile firm was born, which through its creativity was at the cutting edge of technology. After several years devoted to the application of steam locomotion, the firm De Dion & Bouton created the first small rapid-running petrol engine that it installed in tricycles and quadricycles from 1895 onwards. The first small car, later known as the "vis-à-vis" (lit. face to face, where the passenger faced the driver who sat in the back seat), was produced between 1899 and 1901 in volumes that were unimaginable five years earlier, almost 1,500 cars per annum. With an engine that was pre-eminently sporty, the automobile was really a leisure vehicle but the widening of its client base required improvements to be made to performance, reliability, safety and ease of use. De Dion & Bouton devoted all its efforts to this from 1900 onwards : a more powerful engine at 6hp then 8hp, and better brakes, and the final abandonment of the little used vis-a-vis configuration led to the "Popular" type of 1902-1903 with the engine in the front.

The success of the 8hp Popular allowed De Dion & Bouton to survive a first slump in sales and they were soon able to meet the new demands of clients by offering new engines with two and then four cylinders. At the same time, bowing to client pressure, the coachbuilders sought to increase passenger comfort by inventing interior driving cabins, inspired by hippomobile cars.

The car presented, which is well know to amateurs of beautiful old cars because of its originality and its rarity, is a variant of the 1902 Popular with front engine and "alligator" bonnet above a cooler coil placed between the wheels. The tubular chassis is a (short) type K1 presented at the February 1902 Les Mines exhibition, fitted with an 8hp single-cylinder (100 x 110mm) water cooled engine with water circulation pump. The automatic induction is by overhead camshaft, with controlled side exhaust. The electrical lighting originally from batteries, coils and timer was replaced by a system with a modern coil and contact breaker. The carburetor is a non-original single vertical Solex. The De Dion S Type (1903) gearbox with epicycloidal gear train (without gearwheel shift) gives three forward gears and one reverse gear, controlled by a second gear shift lever. The rear drive unit is a De Dion rigid axle separated from the lateral drive transmission.

The bodywork (green coach with black wings and chassis) was carried out by La Carrosserie Industrielle de Levallois. The style used was based on the hippomobile carriage known as the hansom cab in which the coachdriver was positioned behind and above the passenger compartment. To offer two interior places, the steering, pedals and drive levers were recessed in the passenger cell which was well insulated from the mechanicals and from their noise, smell and smoke. The enclosed cabin also offers protection from dust and mud thrown up by wheels that were uncovered at the time. Access is through the front compartment whose lower part is opened by lifting the front glass. The whole superstructure may also be dismantled (four bolts fix it to the cabin) such as a modern movable hard top to convert the car into a completely open top vehicle. Purchasers were able to buy a special hoist to take out the roof more easily in good weather. The large front window, originally in glass panes, was replaced by artificial glass for obvious safety reasons. The interior fittings and the seats are in grey and black velvet. One rare refinement of the time was a hot water bottle connected to the water circulation which heated the compartment.

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Production Start 1902
Country of origin France