De Dion-bou­ton Type EF

Classic Sports Car - - News & Events -

Vet­eran car en­thu­si­ast Bernard Holmes pur­chased his 1913 Type EF Open Tourer about 10 years ago. “I dis­cov­ered it, un­re­stored, three years be­fore that,” Holmes ex­plained, “with a col­lec­tor in Jer­sey who stored the car in Hol­land. Then he moved to Switzer­land, where there is a limit on the num­ber of vet­eran cars that you can have, so he put some up for sale.

“It had been bought out of the Henry Ford Mu­seum – on a rare visit to Europe, Henry spot­ted the De Dion and de­cided that he wanted it for his col­lec­tion be­cause he re­garded it as the fore­run­ner of the Amer­i­can V8s.

“It was orig­i­nally one of a ship­ment of five, bound for New York, but there’s no ev­i­dence that it got there and was first reg­is­tered in La Rochelle. It was re­put­edly Mar­shal Fer­di­nand Foch’s car; there are no pho­tos of him with it, but it’s well-doc­u­mented that the French mil­i­tary used De Dion V8s.”

As Holmes pointed out: “The V8 be­gan life as an air­craft mo­tor; it was of­fered in three sizes, each in a big­ger car, and the 7.7-litre was the largest. We had to go through the sus­pen­sion, but the en­gine has never been apart; all we’ve done was to take the top and bottom off.” In 1923, the Type EF was fit­ted with a Re­nault front axle, so it has brakes on all four wheels. “Which is use­ful,” he says, “be­cause it will do 70mph! Like all of my cars, it’s reg­u­larly used. We’ve been to the south of France with it and to Ger­many.”

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