Steam-powered car from 1884 sells for $4.6 million

 Money 2011 10 10 Autos Worlds Oldest Car Worlds-Oldest-Car.Top
This lovely steam-powered jalopy, built in 1884, is said to be the oldest automobile still running. It sold at auction on Friday for $4.6 million. From CNN:

The four-wheeled De Dion-Bouton et Trepardoux, nicknamed "La Marquise," was originally built for the French Count De Dion, one of the founders of the company that built it.

Fueled by coal, wood and bits of paper, the car takes about a half-hour to work up enough steam to drive. Top speed is 38 miles per hour. The car came close to that speed during what has been billed as the world's first automobile race in 1887, according to RM Auctions.
"World's oldest car sells for $4.6 million"



  1. Well…isn’t that just a cool old thing.  4.6 seems a little pricey; but it is the oldest of its kind: and the 1% need their toys too!

    I wonder how much it would cost to fabricate an exact replica…?

    At any rate, I’d love to see that old rattle trap try and hit 38mph again!

  2. For making the carriage walking at the first speed, take back the drag of the wheel backward crowbar of the right and take completely and progressively back the crowbar of embriage to you while…………..hurl the mover til his starting.For taking the second speed, push rapidly at the crowbar forward without brutality. When it is raised up again, it gaves all its strength.

  3. Not a ‘jalopy’.

    Old car =/= jalopy

    As Wikipedia notes, a jalopy is “a decrepit car, often old and in a barely functional state. A jalopy is not a well kept antique car, but a car which is mostly rundown or beaten up.”

    This is not that.

      1. When I  quote or link to Wikipedia, it’s because it saves me typing, not because I think it’s ‘always correct.’  

        It frequently saves me from writing a long, detailed explanatory post.  

        I don’t use it for anything I don’t know well enough to be able to vouch for the correctness of the Wikipedia summary.

        It’s a useful reference work, not an unassailable authority.  

        But I sort of thought everyone already knew that.

    1. @GlenBlank: Uh, yeah. I know that. I was kidding because the car is clearly in such wonderful condition.

  4. I know that alternative energy is cool, but I’m not sure that the amount one would save on gas would ever make up for the initial price tag. Plus I’ve heard that steam is actually a less efficient power source than gasoline. Seems like a rip off to me. Plus I doubt that thing would pass a safety inspection.

  5. I believe it was the only car to show up at the race, so I guess that would make it the first car to win a race.  The two sweetest words in the English language: de-fault

    1. The picture unfortunately obscures what I think is the steering wheel-  this one shows the controls slightly better. I think the T-shaped handle at the top of the vertical rod is what was used to steer- something like bicycle handlebars.

    1. I see the “steam” part, but there’s not a lot of “punk” in there, unless the inventor was feeling particularly angsty at the time.  Perhaps he wanted to stick it to The Man, keeping the people oppressed with his horse-based tyranny.

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