I was fascinated to read this weekend that the world's oldest known working automobile sold Friday, Oct. 7, 2011 for an astounding $4.2 million to an undisclosed bidder.
Sadly, that buyer was not me.
La Marquise is an 1884 prototype built by De Dion-Bouton, a French automobile manufacturer founded in 1883 by de Dion, Georges Bouton and his brother-in-law Charles Trépardoux, and named for the mother of Marquis Jules-Albert de Dion, the Count of Dion.
In 1887, De Dion drove La Marquise in the "world’s first car race," although she was the only entrant. She made the 20-odd-mile Paris-to-Versailles round trip at an average speed of almost 16 m.p.h. (The next year, De Dion beat Bouton on a three-wheeler with an average speed of 18 m.p.h.!)
Fueled by coal, wood and paper, La Marquise takes 30-40 minutes to build up enough steam to drive and her top speed is 38 miles per hour.
Here are some documented facts about La Marquise according to the auction house:
- Named La Marquise after the Count de Dion’s mother
- At 127 years of age, the oldest running motor car in the world
- Single family ownership for 81 years and only four owners from new
- Participant in the first automobile race in 1887
- Veteran of four London-to-Brighton runs
- Pebble Beach Concours double award winner in 1997
- Capable of 38 mph, 20 miles on tank of water
- Veteran Car Club dating certificate #1750
- Offered from the Estate of John O’Quinn
As the oldest car, La Marquise wore the number "0" in the 1996 London to Brighton Veteran Car Run.
Make sure you watch the video. It might make you appreciate your modern automobile more!