Classic Van Auction Talk

Wednesday 16 October 2019

c.1899 Bruneau Quadrilette - BONHAMS AUCTIONS London to Brighton Sale Friday 1st November 2019 New Bond Street Saleroom, London


London to Brighton Sale
Friday 1st November 2019
New Bond Street Saleroom, London

c.1899 Bruneau Quadrilette
Registration no. not registered
Engine no. 1004
*Obscure French make
*Believed the sole survivor of only three made
*De Dion Bouton engine
*Three owners from new


  • Operating from premises at 12 Victor Hugo Street, Tours, Bruneau was an early manufacturer of motorcycles, tri-cars, and quadricycles and/or quadrilettes, it being believed that only three of the latter were constructed. Like many contemporary manufacturers, Bruneau used the ubiquitous De Dion Bouton engines for its products before partnering with Herdtlé to make Herdtlé-Bruneau proprietary engines and motorcycles from 1902 to 1913. Bruneau was later associated with Rochet.

    This product of one of the more obscure French motor manufacturers of the fin-de-siècle period was sold new via Garage Gouard in Montrichard to a prominent citizen of Tours. It is powered by a single-cylinder De Dion Bouton engine, believed to be of 2¾ horsepower. Engineer Georges Bouton's power units developed significantly greater output than those of rivals Daimler and Benz yet matched them for reliability. Small wonder then that De Dion Bouton engines were adopted by many other manufacturers of tricycles, quadricycles and light cars, both in Europe and the United States, influenced no doubt by the success of the flying tricycles in such events as the Paris-Bordeaux and other endurance races. Early 137cc engines ran at speeds of up to 1,500rpm, while the 250cc engine of 1896 developed approximately 1¾hp and made the contemporary Benz engines seem positively antiquated.

    The Bruneau remained in the original owner's family until the early 1960s when it was purchased by the immediately preceding owner. In 1995, the car took part in the centenary celebration of the famous Paris-Bordeaux-Paris race of 1895, an event accepted as the world's first motor race. The current vendor acquired the vehicle c.2015 in France. Very few examples of this charming little quadrilette were made and this is the only known survivor. Offered with a NOVA declaration.


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