By Jonathan Welsh
A steam-powered car from 1884 sold for $4.6 million.
The automotive auction house RM Auctions said it sold the world’s oldest running motor car, an 1884 De Dion Bouton et Trepardoux Dos-a-Dos Steam Runabout, for $4.62 million at its Hershey, Pa. sale. The price roughly doubled the pre-sale estimate and is a new record for an early motor car sold at auction.
The steam-powered car was commissioned by the French entrepreneur Count de Dion and named ‘La Marquise’ after his mother. On the auction block it drew a starting bid of $500,000 and immediately jumped to $1,000,000. Bidding moved briskly before ending at $4,200,000. The final sales price of $4,620,000 includes 10% buyers’ premium. The auction house estimate was $2 million to $2.5 million.
The new owner joins a list of five collectors to have claimed ownership of La Marquise. The car as an interesting history that includes participation in the first automobile race in 1887, where it reached a top speed of 37 mph, and awards at the 1997 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. The car has also completed four runs in the London to Brighton, a vintage-racing competition in the U.K for the earliest cars.
Driver’s Seat previously reported that the car was expected to cause a stir at auction, though it was uncertain how high a price it would command compared with more popular collector vehicles such as rare racing and sports cars from the 1950s and 1960s.
But this car seemed unaffected by the old rule in car collecting that people want to buy the cars they admired when they were teenagers. Although people who were in high school when this car was new are long deceased, it still proved desirable because of its age, rarity and the fact that it still functions. SOURCE