La Marquise: The World’s Oldest Running Car Sold for $4.62 Million

by Peter Barnes
De Dion La Marquise The World's Oldest Running Car Sold for $4.62 Million 7

La Marquise: It is the world’s oldest racing car, as well as the world’s oldest functioning automobile in private ownership and the recipient of numerous major honors.

The Conte de Dion, a visionary French entrepreneur, teamed up with Georges Bouton and Charles-Armand Trepadoux, two outstanding mechanics. Steam was the only game in town before the Otto cycle engine, and Trepadoux was one of its most inventive minds. The door was opened to practicable in a small, over-the-road package by designing a compact and rapid boiler one that could produce useable steam pressure in minutes.

De Dion La Marquise The World's Oldest Running Car Sold for $4.62 Million
Photo – Throttlextreme

It is a direct descendent of the British road-going locomotives that were cruelly stamped out by the railways after the introduction of steam, which ushered in the Industrial Revolution.

At the 1997 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, this automobile took home two awards. It is, without a doubt, one of the most important automobiles in the world.

THE LA MARQUISE IS STARED AS THE FIRST RACE CAR

De Dion La Marquise The World's Oldest Running Car Sold for $4.62 Million
Photo – Throttlextreme

La Marquise has had only five owners since its inception, including 81 years of single ownership. It was a participant in the first automotive race in 1887, reaching a high speed of 37 mph on the straights.

The first race car has been dubbed the French vehicle. Some contend, however, that because the race it participated in had no competitors, it does not count. Whatever the case may have been, the La Marquise arrived at the competition and completed a round trip from Paris to Versailles at an average speed of 16 miles per hour. The trip took more than an hour because the distance between Paris and Versailles is 20 miles. That may not sound great by today’s standards, but it was a significant accomplishment 100 years ago.

It was a completely functional car that completed four London to Brighton runs in the UK not long ago, always being the first car away as the oldest entry.

THE LA MARQUISE BECAME ONE OF THE OLDEST VEHICLES TO COMPETE IN A RACE

De Dion La Marquise The World's Oldest Running Car Sold for $4.62 Million
Photo – New Atlas

In 1996, the La Marquise competed in a race, making it the oldest car to do so. Because it was the oldest car present, the antique car competed in the London to Brighton Veteran Car Run as contender number “0.” Although the La Marquise did not win the race, it left an indelible impression on the world.

IT WAS SOLD TWICE FOR RECORD-BREAKING SUMS

De Dion La Marquise The World's Oldest Running Car Sold for $4.62 Million
Photo – Auto Types

Because it was an antique, the La Marquise became one of the most sought-after automobiles. Collectors from all over the world competed to buy the car and customize it. As a result, the car was sold for $3.5 million in 2007 at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. It did not stay with its owner for long, since it was sold for $4.62 million in October 7, 2011 at an RM Auctions event in Hershey, PA. According to RM, the ultimate price is a new world record for an early automobile sold at auction. It was also shocking to see such a valuable automobile sell for such a high price.

FOR ITS ERA, A SIMPLE YET PRACTICAL DESIGN

De Dion La Marquise The World's Oldest Running Car Sold for $4.62 Million
Photo – Throttlextreme

The steamship “La Marquise,” named after the Conte de Dion’s mother, was launched in 1884. The nine-foot-long “La Marquise” has twin compound steam engines, “spade handle” steering, and four “dos-a-dos” (back-to-back) seats.

In its day, the La Marquise had a distinctive design. Vehicles of the late 1800s typically had three wheels, but the Marquise featured four. When making curves or traveling at high speeds, the quadricycle design provides improved balance and stability. The three-wheel configuration was inefficient in terms of aerodynamics and handling. The seats are perched on top of a 40-gallon steel water tank.

De Dion La Marquise The World's Oldest Running Car Sold for $4.62 Million
Photo – Throttlextreme

The engine was placed in the front of the vehicle, driving the front wheels and guiding the back wheels. The roof of the Marquise was made of cloth, which was unusual at the time. Cars at the time were more akin to bicycles or tricycles in that they lacked a roof and had insufficient space for numerous people. The La Marquise, on the other hand, had a roof to shield passengers from the elements as well as plenty of passenger room. The antique car, like modern cars, can seat four passengers, but there is limited capacity for luggage.

De Dion La Marquise The World's Oldest Running Car Sold for $4.62 Million
Photo – Throttlextreme

You can make steam by burning wood, coal, or paper. Smoke and moisture are produced during the burning process, which powers the turbine and allows the car to move. However, because the engine must be at a precise temperature before the steam can effect movement, this is a sophisticated system. The La Marquise takes thirty minutes to warm up before it can run, but once it does, it has a top speed of 38 mph.

De Dion La Marquise The World's Oldest Running Car Sold for $4.62 Million
Photo – History blog

If you were offered the chance to ride or own the La Marquise, it wouldn’t surprise you if you answered yes. It is a renowned automobile that is worthy of appreciation and admiration. It may not be the oldest operating car for long because the owner must not drive it too often, but seeing the La Marquise on the road would be a sight to behold.


Source: Throttlextreme

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