…is a French 1884 De Dion et Trepardoux Dos-a-Dos steam runabout. It runs on steam, and it can be yours at auction next month for something north of $2 million.
The car seats four people back-to-back (dos-a-dos in French). It has no steering wheel – just a tiller that looks like the handle of a shovel. There’s a water tank under the seats that propels the steam-powered engine, and it gets about half a mile per gallon.
It ran in the first automobile race in 1887, clocking a top speed of 37 mph, according to the auction house. It didn’t win.
Squindo said that in the years since it was built, the car has had only four owners — one of them a family that kept it for 81 years — who made a point of keeping it in working order. Of late the car has belonged to a wealthy collector in Texas, who kept it under climate-controlled conditions.
“There are other cars — and I use the term loosely — that may be older, but this is the oldest that still works,” said Squindo.
It ’s easy to call this a one-of-a-kind car; it came well before Henry Ford’s adoption of the assembly line, which made automobiles popular and affordable.
You can win it if you have some spare cash, but you need a little just to look at the car. The auction catalog, which serves as an admission ticket for two, costs $100.