By the time the dust had settled, the gavel fell at $4.2 million. The final price included a ten-percent buyer's premium. The crowd began applauding as soon as the car crept onto the stage and the enthusiasm didn't wane until well after the sale.
The Runabout had been in the same family for 81 years prior to the sale, and is one of six De Dion tricycles known to still exist. A total of 20 of the three-wheelers were built. When new, the trike had a top speed of 38 mph and a range of 20 miles on one tank of water. The vehicle that sold last night was the only car to show up for the world's first auto race, where it averaged 16 mph over a 20-mile course. Hop the jump for a press release.
Historic 1884 De Dion Bouton et Trepardoux Dos-a-Dos Steam Runabout more than doubles its estimate at RM's Hershey auction, selling for a record $4,620,000.
HERSHEY, Pennsylvania (October 7, 2011) – The world's oldest running motor car, a historic 1884 De Dion Bouton et Trepardoux Dos-a-Dos Steam Runabout, entered the history books tonight, selling for an impressive $4.62 million before a packed house at RM Auctions' Hershey, Pennsylvania sale. The impressive sale price more than doubled its original pre-sale estimate and represents a new world record for an early motor car sold at auction.
Commissioned by French entrepreneur, Count de Dion and named 'La Marquise' after his mother, the 127 year old vehicle drew a standing ovation from the audience as it drove onto RM's Hershey auction stage. Attracting a starting bid of $500,000 and immediately jumping to $1,000,000, bidding moved swiftly to applause from the crowd, with the gavel eventually falling at an extraordinary $4,200,000. The final sales price of $4,620,000 includes 10% buyers' premium.
"We were honored to have been entrusted with the sale of this most important motor car from the renowned collection of the late Mr. John O'Quinn. The world's leading automotive collectors recognized the incredibly rare opportunity the sale represented, as was reflected in the spirited bidding and impressive result," said Rob Myers, Chairman & Founder, RM Auctions following the sale.
The new owner joins an elite list of just five collectors to have claimed ownership of La Marquise over its well-documented history. In addition to being the world's oldest running motor car, La Marquise's impressive provenance includes participation in the first automobile race in 1887, where it reached a top speed of 37 mph on the straights, along with a double award at the famed 1997 Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance. In addition, La Marquise has also successfully completed four London to Brighton runs in the UK.
Full results and additional highlights from RM Auctions' Hershey sale will be posted shortly.