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De Dion_bouton_illustrated_guide
An extraordinary book

Of course I am biassed, because the book relates to a period in automotive history to which I'm very much attracted. However, “De Dion-Bouton – An Illustrate Guide to Type & Specification 1899-1904” by Michael Edwards is extraordinary definitely also in a more objective way, as it differs from any other book on my book shelves. In the book a detailed overview is given of the 1 and 2 cylinder models produced 

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by the famous make in the mentioned period. Each model is accurately described and illustrated by a large amount of detailed photos of very good quality. You can follow through time all changes in engine, engine and transmission components and other technical details. Moreover the changes are put into the perspective of technical progress, economic (production) demands as well as customer demands. The Service des Mines is frequently mentioned, an authority which had to give a type approval for each new model which came onto the French roads. 

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Not only it is remarkable that such an organisation already existed at this early date, the records of this organisation are an indispensable source for type dating!


The period 1899 to 1904 is important as the car went in these years from childhood to adolescence. Technology advanced rapidly and changes were frequent, sometimes even on a monthly basis. Models were

 released and sometimes became obsolete within a year or even earlier. This book shows that many changes, at least within the De Dion-Bouton concern, were well considered. In this way they were able to create and develop a cheap and reliable motor car in an era when the starting motorist often had no idea what to expect and disappointments were frequent.

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A nice side-issue is that the book gives illustrated tools to discriminate between the different models, very useful for the identification of old photographs. And finally: the book looks right, feels right and smells right! As the price is also right, just buy a copy at the PreWarCar.com-stand at the 2017 Rétromobile show. And you will feel all right too!

Words: Ariejan Bos, Pictures: Michael Edwards

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