A Detailed Look At The World’s Oldest Running Car

The La Marquise is unlike any modern vehicle, as it belongs to the very early days of the automobile industry.

They say records are meant to be broken, but some are harder to break than others. The record for the oldest running car, for example, is a prestigious one that hasn’t been broken for a long time. The current vehicle to hold it is the La Marquise from France. The ancient vehicle was manufactured in 1884 by De Dion, Bouton, and Trépardoux. The car was built as a prototype named after De Dion’s mother, and it was based on a quadricycle design.

The La Marquise is unlike any modern vehicle, as it belongs to the very early days of the automobile industry. Take one look at it, and you will appreciate how far the car world has come in terms of technology and engineering. A classic car that was the pinnacle of mechanical engineering at its time is now a mere relic that is being kept alive by enthusiasts. La Marquise was sold to a new owner in 2011 for $4.63 million.

Let’s take a closer look at what makes this old car special.

The Unique Engine That Powers The Vehicle

Via: New Atlas

There are only a few people alive, at the moment, that have seen a steam-powered engine in all its glory. Their era passed long ago and quickly after the internal combustion engine rose to fame. You might be able to tell how it works if you’ve seen a steam-powered train or ship in real life or depictions in movies. Only a handful of manufacturers who made steam-powered engines are still around today.

To create steam, you need to burn wood, coal, or paper. The burning process creates smoke and moisture, which turn the turbine allowing the car to move. However, this is a complicated system in that you need the engine to be at a specific temperature before the steam can influence movement. The La Marquise requires thirty minutes of heating up before it can start running, but you get a top speed of 38 mph once it does.

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La Marquise Is Arguably The First Race Car

Via New Atlas

The French vehicle has been labeled the first race car. However, some argue that the race it took part in did not have any competitors, so it doesn’t count. Whatever the case may have been, we know for sure that the La Marquise arrived at the competition and completed a round trip from Paris to Versailles, maintaining an average speed of 16 mph. The distance from Paris to Versailles is 20 miles, so the journey took more than an hour. That might not sound impressive by modern standards, but 100 years ago, this was a considerable achievement.

The La Marquise Also Became One Of The Oldest Vehicles To Enter A Race.

The La Marquise entered a racing competition in 1996, becoming the oldest vehicle to do so. The old automobile took part in the London to Brighton Veteran Car Run as contestant number “0”, since it was the oldest car there. The La Marquise didn’t win the race, but it sure made its mark on the world.

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It Was Sold Twice For Record Amounts Of Money

Via: Auto Types

The La Marquise, being an antique, became one of the most sought after vehicles. Collectors from all over the world were vying to buy the car and make it their own. Hence in 2007, at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, the car was sold for a whopping $3.5 million. It did not stay long with its owner as another auction in 2011 saw it selling for $4.6 million. The record-breaking price raised quite a lot of eyebrows. It was also surprising to see a century-old vehicle being sold for such a high price.

Simplistic Yet Practical Design For Its Era

Via: The History Blog

The La Marquise had an unusual design for its era. Vehicles in the late 1800s usually had three wheels, but the Marquise came with a four-wheel plan. The quadricycle design allows better balance and more stability when making turns or driving at high speeds. The three-wheel design was aerodynamically weak and very poor in handling. The La Marquise also had a cloth-made roof, which was uncommon at the time. The cars of the time were more like bicycles or tricycles in that they tended to have no roof, and there was not enough room for several people. On the contrary, the La Marquise had a roof to protect from the elements, alongside ample passenger space. The old car can house four passengers like modern cars, albeit with limited space for any luggage.

It wouldn’t come as a surprise if you said yes when given a chance to ride or own the La Marquise. It is a legendary car that deserves praise and respect. It might not stay the oldest running car for long since the owner must not drive it too often, but it would be a sight to behold to witness the La Marquise on the road.

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