De Dion Bouton Model Q 6hp

Built in 1903 by De Dion, Bouton et Cie, Paris, it is one of the original five cars that launched the Montagu Motor Museum in 1952. This was the nucleus of what would later become the National Motor Museum and is a regular entrant in the London to Brighton run.

It is a particular favourite of mine for all the historical and provenance reasons you would expect but for a couple of other reasons as well.

I vividly remember as a child that whatever car my father owned he always turned the engine over a couple of turns using the starting handle before using the electric start. He had worked at Ford of Dagenham and claimed he knew about such matters and who was to question that? He was irritated beyond all measure when his latest car no longer sported a starting handle – a retrograde step in his opinion.

Coming rather more up to date, many will remember that for years new car showrooms had engine drip trays carefully placed beneath every car because of course the engine was expected to leak a bit and did so. Nowadays a consumer would be astonished but I guess finer engineering tolerances, better materials and the global adoption of the Japanese mantra “Right First Time” changed all that – thank goodness.

Built in 1903 the De Dion Bouton possesses all the features that make visitors to the museum love visiting to firstly look back with huge affection at the early days of motoring and then wonder later in their visit at the enormous strides that have been made and what the next steps might be.

Christopher Macgowan @chrismacgowan

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