Photo ou archives : F-M. Dumas
1 3/4 HP Tricycle - 1899
Father of them all
"What an embryo the automobile would still be if the De Dion-Bouton Tricycle had never been born!" claimed a turn-of-the-century ad. "At this date Â– June 15, 1899 Â– sales total 21,800 units." And certainly the high-speed engine invented in 1894 was a major factor in the development of the French car and motorcycle industry. Many of the pioneer makers in Europe and America bought (or copied) De Dion-Bouton engines rather than developing their own power units.
Both Sides of the Atlantic
In the US, the first Peerless and Pierce-Arrow cars used single-cylinder De Dion-Bouton engines; in France, Aster, Automoto, Comiot, Clément, Gladiator and Peugeot built two-, three- and four-wheeled cycles powered by genuine or copy De Dion-Bouton engines.
Choice of the Famous
The De Dion-Bouton tricycle was the car of its day, which lasted scarcely ten years: by 1905 the tricycle had been eclipsed by the reliable and rapid motorcycle. Many famous motorists were riders of De Dion-Bouton tricycles, among them the Hon. C.S. Rolls (later of Rolls-Royce). The De Dion-Bouton company was an odd partnership between a sturdy aristocrat, politician, lover and duelist, Count Albert De Dion, and a tiny engineering genius named Georges Bouton. In the 1880s they had built steam carriages and sold them to a few adventurous souls Â– but it was their petrol-engined cycles and cars that brought them lasting fame.
Engine: 240cc C66x70mm) air-cooled single-cylinder four-stroke; trembler coil ignition
Power Rating: 1.75 hp@ 1500 rpm
Valves: automatic overhead intake, side exhaust
Fuel System: De Dion-Bouton carburetor
Transmission: direct gear drive to rear axle; choice of "sport," "average" or "touring" ratios
Suspension: none (except the air in the tires!)
Brakes: friction shoe on tire (front); drum (rear axle only)
Wheels: wire clincher (front & rear)
Weight: 220 lb
Maximum Speed: 35 mph
"To go fast, it 's better to be light than powerful," said an 1899 treatise on the De Dion-Bouton tricycle Â– and in its day, the De Dion was the fastest vehicle on the road!