For anyone who considers themselves a historian of the automobile, the car being auctioned was a 1884 De Dion Bouton Et Trapardoux Dos-A-Dos Steam Runabout. Yes, there were other cars designed and prototypes built prior to this car, but this one is still able to Runabout. (Yeah, that was a horrible joke.)
The De Dion was estimated to sell in the $1 million neighborhood, but quickly eclipsed that by selling for an astounding $4.2 million plus a 10% buyer’s premium. Some lucky stiff gets this dream for just under $5 million out of pocket (I don’t imagine there are used car loans available to the tune of $5 mil).
This Runabout is one of six De Dion tricycles known to still exist. A mere 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 auctioned last night was the only entry for the world’s first auto race, where it averaged 16 mph over a 20-mile course. Now, how’s that for a piece of automobile history?