Car Collectors Push 37 MPH De Dion to Record $4.6 Million Sale

The world’s oldest running automobile sold for $4.6 million in Pennsylvania last night. The price with fees was more than double the catalog estimate and is a world record for an early motor car at auction.

The steam-driven 1884 De Dion, capable of 37 miles per hour on a straight, was the most highly valued of 115 cars being offered by RM Auctions at Hershey on Oct. 6-7. The vehicle drew a standing ovation from the audience as it drove onto the auction stage.

The bidding started at $500,000 and immediately jumped to $1 million, before climbing to the record. RM didn’t identify the buyer. The four-seater was being sold by the estate of the Texas-based collector John O’Quinn, who died in 2009.

It was originally built for the French entrepreneur the Comte de Dion by the engineers Georges Bouton and Charles-Armand Trepardoux. Named “La Marquise” after the count’s mother, the quadricycle had only been through four owners.

It was restored in the late 1980s by the U.K. veteran car enthusiast Tim Moore who raced it four times in the annual London-to-Brighton run. Moore sold the vehicle in 2007.

(Scott Reyburn writes about the art market for Muse, the arts and culture section of Bloomberg News. Opinions expressed are his own.)

To contact the writer on the story: Scott Reyburn at sreyburn@hotmail.com.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Manuela Hoelterhoff at mhoelterhoff@bloomberg.net.

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