1911 De Dion Bouton DE1 6hp

1911 De Dion Bouton DE1 6hp Two-seater Torpedo

The names of De Dion and Bouton are inextricably linked with the pioneering years of the motor car, initially in company with Trépardoux in the building of light steam carriages, the first of which appeared in 1883. In the early 1890s De Dion and Bouton turned their attention to the internal combustion engine, much to the annoyance of Trépardoux who quit in 1894, leaving his erstwhile partners to develop what was, in effect, the first high-speed internal combustion engine. By that time he had already introduced what would become famous as the 'De Dion' axle design in which power is transmitted to the road wheels via universally jointed shafts from a final-drive unit attached rigidly to the chassis, while a tubular 'dead' axle accommodates both vehicle weight and wheel location.

Engineer Bouton's power units, the first of which appeared in 1895, developed significantly greater output than their contemporaries from Daimler and Benz yet matched them for reliability. Small wonder then that De Dion Bouton engines were adopted by many other manufacturers of tricycles, quadricycles, and light cars, both in Europe and the United States, influenced no doubt by the success of the flying tricycles in such events as the Paris-Bordeaux and other endurance races. Ultimately, over 140 would use De Dion proprietary engines.

Early De Dion cars were rear engined and of the vis-à-vis type – where the passengers sat facing the driver – but from 1902 onwards the firm began to adopt what would become accepted as the conventional layout for a motor car. By this time, De Dion's fast-revving, single-cylinder engines were offered in 4½hp, 6hp and 8hp variants. All featured mechanical inlet and atmospheric exhaust valves, and were noted for their reliability, which is borne out by the number surviving today.

Descriptions & pictures by bonhams

Production Start 1911
Country of origin France