1904 De Dion-Bouton Model AD

1904 De Dion-Bouton Model AD by Henri Binder Tonneau

De Dion, Bouton et Trepardoux were among the first practitioners to take part in the motor industry. Bouton and Trepardoux were brothers-in-law and both were engineers. Comte Jules Felix Philip Albert de Dion de Malfiance was of noble birth, enjoyed steam engines, and was of substantial means.

The Count and M. Trepardoux formed a partnership to build small, self-propelled vehicles. In 1883, a four-wheel carriage with rear-wheel steering was built. Automobile production continued to evolve in various configurations. In 1893, a series of steam tractors were built. By the early 1980s, de Dion had built two advanced petrol engines.

Trepardoux remained loyal to steam while de Dion was able to convince George Bouton of the advantages of internal combustion. In 1894 he resigned from the partnership. De Dion and Bouton then began work on a single-cylinder petrol engine with air-cooling and electric ignition. The new design was applied to a tub-frame tricycle and were made in several sizes and quantities until 1902.

The first petrol-engine four-wheeler was completed in 1898. In 1903, the first twin-cylinder car was produced, the Type S. All the vehicles since the 1893 steam tractors were given the de Dion rear suspension which used a dead axle to carry the weight, while drive was taken to the wheels by floating half-shafts with universal joints. The dead axle became known as the 'De Dion tube'. It maintained the alignment of the wheels while reducing un-sprung weight.

In 1904, a four-cylinder car appeared named the Model AD. It had a chassis comprised of pressed steel, platform rear suspension, automatic inlet valves, side-lever gear-change, and a single-plate clutch.

This example is a 1904 DeDion-Bouton Model ADL and rides on the longer wheelbase version of the two available for the Model AD. It was part of the Cameron Peck Collection in the 1940s. In 1952, it was sold to Atwater Kent Jr., who subsequently donated the car to the William Penn Memorial Museum in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Prior to 1955, the car was fitted with a wicker touring body. In 1996, on the sale of some of the Penn Museum cars, it went to England, where it was sympathetically mechanically restored for the second time in its life.

The current owner treated the car to an authentic restoration where it was given a (re-created) four-passenger rear-entrance tonneau body, in the style of Henri Binder.

In 2008, the freshly restored car was shown at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegnace where it received First in Class honors.

Descriptions and pictures by conceptcarz & supercars

Production Start 1904
Country of origin France