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Lot 202: 1898 Léon Bollée 3hp Two Seater Voiturette

Veteran Motor Cars, Bonhams (4 November 2005)


Perhaps reacting against his father’s total commitment to steam transport, young Léon Bollée saw greater potential in the internal combustion engine and designed his first such powered vehicle, a tandem two-seater, three-wheeler as early as 1895. Production was based at Le Mans and the single-cylinder, air-cooled, 650cc engine developed 3hp, giving these machines an amazingly fast turn of speed. Three forward speeds were standard and the tubular frame owed much to bicycle manufacturing methods. Bollée’s significant invention in this machine was the driving wheel axle carried by levers pivoted on the frame of the vehicle, allowing the movement of the axle backwards or forwards to increase or release belt tension for gear changing. The engine was mounted horizontally with radiating cooling ribs and ignition was by hot tube using an oil-fired burner, a similar system to that of Panhard-Levassor. Contemporary motor racing driver, Charles Jarrott, in his standard work, “Ten Years of Motors and Motor Racing” referred to the presence of Léon Bollées at the start of the 1896 London to Brighton Run as follows –
“Léon Bollée was there, with a small fleet of those extraordinary little machines invented by him, which always, to my mind resembled land torpedoes more than anything else.” Léon and father Amédee Bollée and H.O. Duncan were to drive these vehicles in this landmark event. In 1897 Léon Bollées won The Motorcycle Cup, a major race organised and sponsored by ‘La France Automobile’, then as now qualifying for both motorcycle and car events. The Paris-Amsterdam Race, held in the same year, was won by Jamin on a Bollée, extraordinarily covering 170km in 4 hours and 13 minutes.
Today Léon Bollées are accepted for both the LBVCR and the equally prestigious Sunbeam M.C.C. Pioneer Run to Brighton. The late Sammy Davis, founder of the Veteran Car Club, was an energetic Léon Bollée driver and today they have a distinct appeal to more sporting sorts. This car was previously owned by V.S.C.C. Past President Barry Clarke and now comes to sale from the Executors of renowned two and three wheel enthusiast, the late Christopher Franklin. It is offered with a Swansea registration document and has been dated by the V.C.C. of GB (Certificate No.2031).

Estimate: £28,000 to 32,000

Lot Details
Auction Veteran Motor Cars
Bonhams, London to Brighton Veteran Car Run, 101 New Bond Street
TypeCar
Lot Number202
Estimate£28000-£32000
Outcome SOLD
Hammer Price£27000
Hammer Price (inc premium)£31050
Year1898
Condition rating
Registration number
Mileage-
Chassis number903
Engine number
Engine capacity (cc)
Engine - cylinders
Number of doors