9-10 October 2014

Offered from the collection of John Moir

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Lot 110

1900 De Dion-Bouton Vis-à-Vis

  • Chassis no. 585
  • Engine no. 4192

Sold for $96,250

3.5 bhp, 402 cc single-cylinder engine, two-speed manual transmission with chain drive, suspension, and rear-wheel mechanical brakes. Wheelbase: 60 in.

  • Offered from the collection of John Moir
  • Built by one of the most famous early names in motoring
  • A pioneer automobile with remarkable modern features
  • Charming “face-to-face” seating
  • Eligible for London to Brighton Veteran Car Runs

During the 1960s and 1970s, a hallmark of any European sports cars was the de Dion rear axle. Little did many enthusiasts of the time know that the design actually dated back eight decades, to the shop in France of automakers De Dion-Bouton, a pioneer automaker established in 1883 by the partnership of Count Albert de Dion, George Bouton, and Charles Trépardoux.

The trio produced their first steam-powered tricycle that year and their first gasoline car in 1889. By 1900, the firm was producing 1,500 cars and over 5,000 engines for other automakers. They also supplied powerplants to 150 other manufacturers, and their design was copied by many more. Their company was, in other words, the leader of early automaking in the world and a pioneer of designs that sold all over the globe.

Mr. Moir relishes in describing the details of his De Dion-Bouton’s engineering:

"Even in 1900, these cars had a de Dion rear end. It was designed in the 1890s by their engineer, Trepardoux, and it has a shaft drive from the engine under the seat to a rear differential to two universal joints to half shafts to two more universal joints to the two rear wheels. The power is delivered through the flexible half shafts, while the weight and stress is carried by the tubular dead axle. The whole idea was to reduce the unsprung weight to the rear wheels. I have always left the cover off the differential so that visitors can see the design."

The body style, typical to De Dion-Boutons produced this year, is a charming vis-à-vis, or “face-to-face,” with the passengers seating facing the driver, who rides atop the car’s 3.5-horsepower engine. Typical of a French automobile, even one from the 1900s, detail is extravagant and includes decorative grillework cut into the body in floral patterns, dramatic flared fenders, and brass “De Dion Bouton” script, which is carried over the radiator. Its paint and interior leather are both aged and likely date to the 1960s or 1970s, but the trim responds well to polish. Overall, the car is still attractive enough for enjoyment on tours. Premiere among those tours would be the London to Brighton Veteran Car Run, which, according to Mr. Moir, this automobile completed in previous ownership.

Thanks to their advanced engineering that set the mold for others to follow, De Dion-Boutons are some of the most prized and valuable of all early horseless carriages, and they figure into collections as diverse as the Seal Cove Auto Museum and the Schlumpf stables. This is a rare opportunity for American enthusiasts to acquire one and appreciate its engineering first-hand on the road.

Please contact our exclusive automotive transportation partner, Reliable Carriers, for a shipping quote or any other information on the transport of this vehicle.

Alexander Weaver


+1 864 313 6844
California, United States

Alexander Weaver joined RM Sotheby’s in 2011 as a Car Specialist after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat


+44 (0) 74 1511 4179
United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a Car Specialist after more than a decade in the collector car hobby. Gradua... read more

Barney Ruprecht


+1 203 912 7168
Ontario, Canada

Barney’s interest in classic cars began at an early age after being introduced to his father’s all-original 1965 Porsche 911. Barney l... read more

David Swig


+1 415 302 2247
California, United States

David Swig joined RM Sotheby’s West Coast division as a Car Specialist in May 2015. David is a life-long automobile enthusi... read more

Don Rose


+1 617 513 0388
United States

Don joined RM in 2006 after several years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputation as a noted... read more

Donnie Gould


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Florida, United States

Donnie Gould joined the RM team in 2002 as a partner and Car Specialist after more than two decades in the vintage automobile auction ... read more

Gord Duff


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Ontario, Canada

Gord Duff began his journey with RM Sotheby’s in 1998. Since then, he has gained an intimate knowledge of a variety of marques a... read more

Jake Auerbach


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California, United States

Jake Auerbach got his start in the automotive industry at an early age, spending his summers during high school working at a classic c... read more

Kurt Forry


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California, United States

Having worked for Bonhams’ Automobilia department for over 10 years, Kurt Forry joined RM Sotheby’s with more than a decad... read more

Matt Malamut


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California, United States

A long-time car enthusiast and Southern California native, Matt studied Automotive Technology at San Diego Miramar College and complet... read more

Michael Squire


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United Kingdom

Michael Squire joined RM Sotheby’s European Division in the summer of 2016. He comes to RM with a prestigious racing background ... read more

Mike Fairbairn


+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

As one of the three founding partners of RM Sotheby’s, Mike has a long-standing interest in the classic car industry. Graduating... read more

Oliver Camelin


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United Kingdom

With an extensive background in exotic sports car history and sales, a particular passion for American curves, and fluency in three la... read more

Paul Darvill


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United Kingdom

Paul Darvill joined the RM Sotheby’s European team at the beginning of 2015. Paul holds a degree in French and Politics from the... read more

Pete Fisher


+1 519 784 9300
Ontario, Canada

Pete Fisher was first introduced to antique cars in high school, working for Classic Coachworks in his hometown of Blenheim, Ontario. ... read more

Shelby Myers


+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Shelby Myers grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to watch the R... read more

Tonnie Van der Velden


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United Kingdom

Tonnie Van der Velden joined RM Sotheby’s European division in September 2015 as a Car Specialist. A lifelong enthusiast, Tonnie... read more