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World’s Oldest Auto Goes for $4.6 Mil at Auction

Bidding doubles initial estimates.

by on Oct.10, 2011

Bidding doubled initial estimates for the De Dion "La Marquise," the world's oldest car.

It’s slow, rough and belches smokes, but that wasn’t enough to keep an unidentified bidder from spending $4.6 million to acquire an 1884 De Dion Bouton et Trepardoux Dos-a-Dos Steam Runabout at the RM Auction in Hershey, Pennsylvania.

More commonly known as “La Marquise,” for Count De Dion’s mother, the coal-fired three-wheeler is the oldest surviving automobile in the world.  The $4.2 million winning bid was more than double the original, $2 million estimate.  The auction house added another $420,000 in commission.

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The buyer will be only the fifth since La Marquise was built – one of 20 to be assembled by the Count, among the earliest proponents of the automobile.  In fact, the De Dion Runabouts were produced two years before Carl Benz rolled out his first vehicle, which the German maker Daimler AG bills as the first true automobile.  That is a matter of semantics, as the De Dion design ran on steam power rather than using an internal combustion engine, as the Benz model did.

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In Search of the Best: 2011 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance

"Great people...and the best cars in the world."

by on Aug.22, 2011

Peter Mullins' Voisin Aerodyn takes Best-in-Show.

Parked on the lawn, the motor of his 1934 Avian Voisin C-25 Aerodyne idling, Peter Mullin had no idea what to expect.  The next couple minutes might bring the biggest surprise of his life or the biggest disappointment.

There was no question he’d delivered a showstopper with the French sedan he’d entered into the annual Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.  It took a full three years to restore the Voisin – “And I had already been planning it for seven years,” he recalled.  But there were two other striking examples of pre-war automotive elegance sitting alongside, anyone of which might grab the most coveted trophy in the world of classic cars.

Suddenly, like angels calling, the trumpets began their fanfare, fireworks bursting into the air as Mullin got the signal he was hoping for.  Yet it wasn’t until he had the Aerodyne parked on the center stage that the long-time collector finally allowed the reality to set in. After 30 years of trying, he had just won the Concours’ Best-in-Show.

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“I just can’t believe it,” Mullins repeated, still in shock, confetti now covering the dark grey and black Voisin, which was one of only six C-25s built by French aeronautical pioneer Gabriel Voisin after he decided to switch to automotive manufacturing in the wake of World War I.  “I thought I’d finished third.  This is the most rewarding thing that ever happened to me in the car world,” said Mullin.

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