De Dion Bouton Club UK


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The Horseless Carriage Exhibition 1896


"The First London Motor Show"


120th Anniversary
re-enactment at
Imperial College Kensington
7/8th May 2016



International Historic Motoring Awards 2016

In the early 1880's the Parisian engineering workshop of Charles Trepardoux and Georges Bouton produced a miniature steam engine. This caught the eye of wealthy aristocrat the Count De Dion, who was interested in somewhat larger coal fired versions, to attempt to power a road vehicle capable of carrying passengers. Producing steam powered tricycles, four wheel "domestic" and commercial transport, the partnership of De Dion Bouton et Trepardoux had some considerable success in the ensuing decade, including winning some of the earliest races and reliability trials held anywhere in the world. In fact one of these primitive steam powered vehicles is credited with winning the World's first race which was held in their home country, France, which was the crucible of this new industry.


It was however the concept of the new "Otto Cycle" four stroke petrol internal combustion engine which the Count instinctively saw as the way forward, and he and Bouton parted company with Trepardoux to form the new Company of "De Dion Bouton et Cie", based in larger premises but still in Paris. Georges Bouton was the brilliant engineer behind a raft of innovations - an ingenious small horse power high speed engine, which revolved at twice the speed of competing firms' products; a unique electric ignition system, and a simple gearbox which made the early motor vehicles relatively simple to operate. From producing motorised tricycles and quadricycles, their ever increasing factory space produced "loose" engines for other manufacturers, and in doing so became mid wife to dozens of new small motor manufacturers, some of whom such as Renault went on to become automotive giants.


In 1899 the firm launched their first petrol driven four wheel "petit voiture" (little car) which was capable of carrying four persons. It was an instant success and at the turn of the 20th Century, De Dion Bouton quickly became the largest car manufacturer in the world. Over the next 25 years, the company designed and built dozens of models from small single cylinder vehicles, to the world's first production V 8 engine. Producing commercial vehicles, omnibuses, military transport, vans and even rail cars and bicycles, the name De Dion Bouton was a household word, not just in France, but around the world as there were very few developed countries which they did not export to or have manufacturing licence agreements with. Great Britain was a particularly strong market. However the company fell by the wayside and stopped producing private cars by 1930; it continued to produce commercial vehicles, but that too ultimately ceased in 1950.


The legacy of the De Dion Bouton establishment is that many of the vehicles they made are still in existence, and cherished world wide by enthusiasts, who appreciate the fine engineering concepts which this unique marque embodies. The De Dion Bouton Club salutes the pioneers and welcomes a new generation of active participants in the legend.

Download latest version of list showing ddb Marques which used de Dion Bouton engines