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1901 De Dion Bouton Vis-A-Vis Motorette Vis-A-Vis / 128 Vehicle Information

1901 De Dion Bouton Vis-A-Vis photograph

1901 De Dion Bouton Vis-A-Vis photograph

1901 De Dion Bouton Vis-A-Vis photograph

1901 De Dion Bouton Vis-A-Vis photograph

1901 De Dion Bouton Vis-A-Vis photograph

1901 De Dion Bouton Vis-A-Vis photograph

1901 De Dion Bouton Vis-A-Vis photograph

1901 De Dion Bouton Vis-A-Vis photograph

1901 De Dion Bouton Vis-A-Vis photograph

1901 De Dion Bouton Vis-A-Vis photograph

1901 De Dion Bouton Vis-A-Vis photograph

1901 De Dion Bouton Vis-A-Vis photograph

1901 De Dion Bouton Vis-A-Vis photograph

1901 De Dion Bouton Vis-A-Vis photograph

1901 De Dion Bouton Vis-A-Vis photograph

1901 De Dion Bouton Vis-A-Vis photograph

1901 De Dion Bouton Vis-A-Vis1901 De Dion Bouton Vis-A-Vis1901 De Dion Bouton Vis-A-Vis1901 De Dion Bouton Vis-A-Vis1901 De Dion Bouton Vis-A-Vis1901 De Dion Bouton Vis-A-Vis1901 De Dion Bouton Vis-A-Vis1901 De Dion Bouton Vis-A-Vis1901 De Dion Bouton Vis-A-Vis1901 De Dion Bouton Vis-A-Vis1901 De Dion Bouton Vis-A-Vis1901 De Dion Bouton Vis-A-Vis1901 De Dion Bouton Vis-A-Vis1901 De Dion Bouton Vis-A-Vis1901 De Dion Bouton Vis-A-Vis1901 De Dion Bouton Vis-A-Vis
Sold for $191,400 at 2013 Bonhams - Quail Lodge Auction.
Sold for $162,400 at 2019 Bonhams : Amelia Island.
During the early years of automobile production, many individuals and businesses went searching for a foot-hold into the potentially lucrative market. Established automakers looked for ways to increase reliability of their product and to grow their business. One market that proved to have the largest barrier to entry was the market in the United States, which levied large fees sanctioned on imported automobiles.

A number of Americans were impressed by the performance and quality of the European vehicles. They sought was to commercially market them at home. One solution was to gain a license to build an American equivalent of the European brand in the United States. Some of the cars would be imported and assembled here, others built the majority of the product in the U.S.

By 1901 De Dion Bouton was one of the largest volume manufacturers of automobiles, nearing 20 years since Count Albert De Dion had commissioned Georges Bouton and Charles Trepardoux, brothers-in-law and engineers, to build light steam carriages for him. They had turned their attention from steam power to the internal combustion engine, first attaching them to tricycles and quadricycles before marketing a full-fledged voiturette or small automobile in 1899. Owing to its center facing seating arrangement for its passengers, the voiturette quickly became known as the 'vis-à-vis' a name which has stuck to this day. These lightweight vehicles were given a single cylinder motor offering roughly 3.5 horsepower which allowed a top speed in the neighborhood of 25 mph.

At the back of the voiturette was a unique feature; the power from the motor was sent to the rear through 'universal' type joints with cardan shafts. This would allow constant drive to the rear wheels, while the engine and gearbox sat rigidly in the chassis frame. This allowed for more driver comfort and more versatility in the terrain that it covered. This setup is generally attributed to Trepardoux who had already by then parted company with the organization, now named DeDion Bouton.

Kenneth Skinner was the enterprising man behind the inevitable marketing of a De Dion Bouton-inspired product in America. For the American market, he labeled these cars as 'Motorettes' rather than voiture. Many of the parts of the car were cast with 'NY' next to their part numbers and most of the aluminum castings have 'Motorette' cast into them. They were built on Church Street in Brooklyn and sold in Manhattan on West 66th. Unfortunately, sales were not as strong as they were in Europe, and the company seems to have failed within a year.

Production lasted for six-months to a year with total production in the 'hundreds' rather than 'thousands.'

Chassis no. 128
Famed for its floating rear axle design, the Brooklyn based Motorette Company built DeDion Boutons under license for just a few months. The voiturette was not up to the rugged American roads so it was not the success it had been in Europe. In the 1940s Alton Walker, who served as Chairman of the first Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance, discovered this Motorette in a hayloft where it had rested since the early teens. He restored the car and sold it to MGM Studios, which used it in the Red Skelton movie Excuse My Dust.

It is not known if the vehicle was used in any other films. It did remain in M.G.M's possession until 1970, when the company changed hands. The car was sold at auction to a New Jersey resident, who later sold it to a Delaware collector, arriving in its current ownership in 2010. By this point in history, it was in poor cosmetic order and a decision was made to restore it. The car still retained its original inlet and exhaust valves, numbered to correspond with the engine number. Most parts of the bodywork were found to be stamped with the number '128' which is thought to be its car number, showing that it was both original and had always been complete.

After removing several layers of paint, an original base of dark olive green was found.

When the restoration was complete, it was shown at the 2012 Pebble Beach Concurs d'Elegance, where it was awarded with Second in Class.



2019 Bonhams : Amelia Island

Pre-Auction Estimates :
USD $150,000-USD $180,000 
Sale Price :
USD $162,400

2013 Bonhams - Quail Lodge Auction

Sale Price :
USD $191,400

1901 De Dion Bouton Vis-A-Vis Auction Sales

Recent Sales

(Data based on Model Year 1901 sales)
1901 De Dion Bouton Type G
Chassis#: 4978
Sold for USD$78,842
  2019 H & H Classics - Imperial War Museum, Duxford
 
1901 De Dion-Bouton 4½hp Motorette
Chassis#: 159
Sold for USD$90,190
  2019 Bonhams : Goodwood Members Meeting
1901 De Dion Bouton Vis-A-Vis image  
1901 De Dion Bouton 5hp Motorette
Chassis#: 128
Sold for USD$162,400
  2019 Bonhams : Amelia Island
1901 De Dion Bouton Vis-A-Vis image  1901 De Dion Bouton Vis-A-Vis image  
1901 De Dion Bouton Type G vis-à-vis
Chassis#: 1389
Sold for USD$114,351
  2017 Artcurial : Retromobile
 
1901 De Dion-Bouton New York Type Motorette
Sold for USD$115,500
  2014 RM Auctions - Amelia Island
1901 De Dion Bouton Vis-A-Vis image  1901 De Dion Bouton Vis-A-Vis image  
1901 De Dion Bouton 5hp Motorette
Chassis#: 128
Sold for USD$191,400
  2013 Bonhams - Quail Lodge Auction
1901 De Dion Bouton Vis-A-Vis image  1901 De Dion Bouton Vis-A-Vis image  
1901 De Dion-Bouton 4 ½hp Motorette
Chassis#: 159
Sold for USD$110,400
  2012 Bonhams - Quail Lodge Sale
1901 De Dion Bouton Vis-A-Vis image  
1901 De Dion Bouton 4 1/2hp Vis-à-vis
Sold for USD$159,114
  2011 Bonhams - RAF Museum, Hendon, Collectors' Motor Cars and Automobilia
 
1901 De Dion Bouton Motorette
Chassis#: 126
Sold for USD$163,750
  2010 FAIRFIELD COUNTY CONCOURS D'ELEGANCE, EXCEPTIONAL COLLECTORS' MOTORCARS AND AUTOMOBILIA
1901 De Dion Bouton Vis-A-Vis image  1901 De Dion Bouton Vis-A-Vis image  
1901 De Dion Bouton 3 1/2hp Voiturette
Chassis#: 1237
Sold for USD$73,056
  2009 Bonhams - Veteran Motor Cars and Related Automobilia
 
1901 De Dion Bouton 4 1/2hp Model G Vis-à-vis
Chassis#: 612
Sold for USD$92,171
  2009 Bonhams - The Ward Brothers' Reserve Collection
 
1901 De Dion Bouton 4½hp vis-à-vis Voiturette
Chassis#: 372
Sold for USD$60,900
  2008 Veteran Motor Cars and Related Automobilia
 
1901 De Dion Bouton 4 1/2hp Three Seater Voiturette
Chassis#: 3543
Sold for USD$72,616
  2003 Bonhams - Important Collectors' Motor Cars
 

Vehicles That Failed To Sell

1901 De Dion Bouton Vis-A-Vis's that have appeared at auction but did not sell.
VehicleChassisEventHigh BidEst. LowEst. High
1901 De Dion Bouton 4½hp Vis-à-Vis60112013 Bonhams Les Grandes Marques du Monde au Grand Palais $95,000$125,000
1901 De Dion Bouton 4½hp Type G2 Vis-à-Vis9642008 Veteran Motor Cars and Related Automobilia $55,000$65,000

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De Dion Bouton Vis-A-Vis Vehicle Profiles


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