De Dion steamer sells for $4.2M

It takes about one minute to pronounce the name of the oldest known operating motorcar: 1884 De Dion Bouton et Trepardoux Dos-a-Dos steam runabout, and it took about 19 more minutes on Oct. 7 for this historic car to reach a record selling price of $4,200,000. The venue was RM Auction’s annual sale conducted at the Hershey Lodge in Hershey, Pa., and held in conjunction with the AACA Eastern Fall Meet.

A video running in the lobby of the ballroom where the auction was held showed the De Dion under power on some dirt back roads and had a constant audience. The video explained the history of the 127-year-old car, which was commissioned by French entrepreneur, Count de Dion and named ‘La Marquise’ after his mother. La Marquise’s provenance includes participation in the first automobile race in 1887, where it reached a top speed of 37 mph. But it was even more spectacular to witness this runabout driven onto the raised auction podium in a cloud of steam.

As each million-dollar plateau was surpassed, the large audience gathered in the ballroom let loose with applause. When the gavel finally dropped at the winning bid of $4,200,000, the buzz in the room continued well into the next sale.

With the RM 10-percent buyer’s premium added in, the De Dion’s purchase price increased to $4,620,000.

The runabout was formerly part of the late John O’Quinn Collection.

Complete auction results coming soon.


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