1901 De Dion-Bouton Motorette

  • Owner: Richard C. Paine, Jr. Automobile Charitable Trust
  • Manufacturer: De Dion Bouton Motorette Company (Brooklyn, NY)
  • Model: Motorette Vis-A-Vis
  • Engine: One-cylinder, water-cooled, speeds of 20-25mph
  • Horsepower: 3.5
  • Additional info: weight and using coil ignition with a mechanically operated contact breaker. Introduced in 1899, this little car had all the essential DeDion-Bouton features that served the firm for many years to come. The only major change was the moving of the engine from a rear location to the front in 1902. Enduring features were the high-speed water-cooled engine with reliable electric ignition and a gearbox in which each gear had its own individual expanding clutch that gave smooth gear changes. This gearbox was bolted to the tubular chassis with the final drive via what was called a DeDion back axle, whereby the rear wheels were carried on a 'dead' axle beam and the drive was by universally-jointed half-shafts. The French firm went on to make the first production V8-engined car in 1910.