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The De Dion-Bouton brand born in 1893, was the brainchild of an unusual trio; Marquis Albert de Dion, a swordsman and financier, Georges Bouton and Charles Trépardoux – brothers-in-law and innovators.
The trio were famous for their technological innovations in engineering, which became associated with the De Dion-Bouton brand. Their inventions, like the De Dion tube, which allows power to be transmitted to the driven wheels independent of the suspension, can still be found on some cars today.
Although the trio used internal combustion engines from 1894, the first De Dion-Boutons were powered by steam. Something which was to cause Trépardoux to part company with de Dion and Button, believing steam to be the future.
1895 was a turning point for De Dion, when its first internal combustion engine went into production, destined for use in tricycles. By the time 1896 came around, De Dion-Bouton engines were used by over 140 different car manufacturers.
De Dion produced engines with a world-beating power-to-weight ratio, which ranged from huge V12s to single-cylinder engines capable of reaching 2000 revolutions per minute.
The Marquis and Georges Bouton continued to produce vehicles at a good pace after the departure of Trépardoux, and in 1899 they produced their first car as a duo.
In addition to the innovative De Dion rear axle, the 24HP was equipped with an unusual gearbox and differential, which had an aluminum housing and a shared lubrication system with the engine. Also unique for its time the 24HP had four separate engine cylinders and a low-tension magnetic distributor unit.
Between 1905 and 1906, the De Dion-Bouton 24HP was heralded as the largest and most powerful car ever to be made.
The 24HP in the Museu do Caramulo was discovered in very poor condition by João de Lacerda in October of 1962. It was wasting away on a farm in Penalva do Castelo called Quinta da Ínsua.
At the time of its discovery, the car had only its chassis and bodywork. An engine had to be found for it later in Porto.
What you see now in the museum is the result of painstaking restoration work which took over ten years to complete. The work was done with the help of João de Albuquerque and José Rodrigues Estêvão, also known as Estêvão dos De Dion.
The exceptional work of the restorers was duly recognised when this De Dion-Bouton 24HP as classified by the Veteran Car Club of Great Britain and assigned the number 1,519.