1905 DE DION BOUTON 6HP TYPE Y TWO SEATER
Registration No. H 2339
Car No. 360
Engine No. 17881
Dark blue with black leather upholstery
Engine: single cylinder, 90 x 110mm bore and stroke, 700cc, water-cooled with automatic inlet valve and De Dion Bouton coil ignition and carburettor; Gearbox: three speed and reverse with expanding clutches, integral final drive and De Dion rear axle; Suspension: front, semi-elliptic, rear, three-quarter elliptic leaf springs; Brakes: rear wheel and transmission brakes. Right hand drive.
In an age when current Formula One engines spin up to 17,000 revs per minute, it is difficult to conceive of a time when a high-speed engine was regarded, with some trepidation, as one that approached just 1,000 rpm. Yet in the closing years of the 19th century Daimler and Maybach developed a V-twin 760cc engine weighing 130 pounds that produced 2 horsepower at 760 rpm and was the ultimate high-speed unit of its day. Needless to say, someone quickly came along to improve on that, and that someone was Georges Bouton, under the patronage of Count Albert de Dion.
In 1899 a 2¼ horsepower single-cylinder De Dion Bouton engine developed its power from only 270cc at 1,500 rpm, and weighed less than 50 lb. The increased revs came largely courtesy of the coil ignition system and the weight saving was partly due to the use of air-cooling alone, but also because the all-enclosing crankcase was cast not in bronze, but in aluminium, a metal that only became commercially available and affordable in the 1890s.
These De Dion Bouton high-speed engines were produced in large quantities, the figure of five-hundred per month is given in The Autocar in 1898, and they powered the trikes and quadricycles not only of the makers but also those of numerous other manufacturers. As larger versions were developed, soon to be fully water-cooled, they became the heart of De Dion Bouton motorcars and provided them with their lively and reliable performance.
The Y-Type was introduced in October 1904 as a 1905 model, and both the Car and engine numbers of this example indicate 1905 manufacture. It was however dated to 1904 by the Veteran Car Club when the dating of cars was in its infancy. It is therefore currently eligible for the London to Brighton Run and even if the date of the car was revised to 1905 it would still be eligible for this event under the present rules.
The car is mechanically in largely authentic condition, with significant items such as the De Dion Bouton carburettor in place, although some minor revision to the ignition system seems long ago to have been made. The paintwork appears to be original, the bodywork unmodified and still with the leather valences to the inside face of the front mudguards, whilst the dashboard carries correct battery and coil boxes.
The original owner of the car is reported to have moved it into his living room for safe wartime storage and to have enjoyed his pre-dinner aperitif sat in the driver's seat, sounding the car's bulb horn when necessary to summon forth the butler!
This delightfully original De Dion Bouton has regularly taken part in the Brighton Run, the last occasion being the 2004 event.