Jules-Albert de Dion

Last updated


Jules-Albert de Dion
De Dion stoomdriewieler.GIF
de Dion on a steam car
Born
Jules Félix Philippe Albert de Dion de Wandonne

(1856-03-09)9 March 1856
Died19 August 1946(1946-08-19) (aged 90)
Paris, France
NationalityFrench
Known for Automobile, motorcycle pioneer
Dreyfus affair
"Automobile". Caricature by Guth published in Vanity Fair in 1899. Jules-Albert de Dion, Vanity Fair, 1899-10-12.jpg
"Automobile". Caricature by Guth published in Vanity Fair in 1899.
Blazon de Dion Blason famille de Dion (BE, FR).svg
Blazon de Dion

Marquis Jules Félix Philippe Albert de Dion de Wandonne (9 March 1856 19 August 1946) was a French pioneer of the automobile industry. He invented a steam-powered car and used it to win the world's first auto race, but his vehicle was adjudged to be against the rules. He was a co-founder of De Dion-Bouton, the world's largest automobile manufacturer for a time, as well as the French sports newspaper L'Équipe .

Contents

His life

Dion was the heir of a leading French noble family, in 1901 succeeding his father Louis Albert William Joseph de Dion de Wandonne as Count and later Marquis. A "notorious duellist", he also had a passion for mechanics. [1] He had already built a model steam engine when, in 1881, he saw one in a store window and asked about building another. [1] The engineers, Georges Bouton and his brother-in-law, Charles Trépardoux, [2] had a shop in Léon where they made scientific toys. [1] Needing money for Trépardoux's long-time dream of a steam car, they acceded to De Dion's request. [3]

During 1883, they formed a partnership which became the De Dion-Bouton automobile company, the world's largest automobile manufacturer for a time. They tried marine steam engines, but progressed to a steam car which used belts to drive the front wheels whilst steering with the rear. This was destroyed by fire during trials. In 1884, they built another, "La Marquise", with steerable front wheels and drive to the rear wheels. As of 2011, it is the world's oldest running car, and is capable of carrying four people at up to 38 miles per hour (61 km/h). [2]

Comte de Dion entered one in an 1887 trial, "Europe's first motoring competition", [2] the brainchild of M. Paul Faussier of cycling magazine Le Vélocipède Illustré . [2] Evidently, the promotion was insufficient, for the de Dion was the sole entrant, [2] but it completed the course.

The de Dion tube (or 'dead axle') was actually invented by steam advocate Trépardoux, just before he resigned because the company was turning to internal combustion. [4]

In 1898, he co-founded the Mondial de l'Automobile (Paris Motor Show). [5]

He died in 1946, age 90, [6] and is buried in the cemetery at Montparnasse in Paris. There is a memorial plaque in the family chapel in Wandonne, 3 kilometres (1.9 mi) south of Audincthun in the Pas-de-Calais.[ citation needed ]

Racing career

Motor racing was started in France as a direct result of the enthusiasm with which the French public embraced the motor car. [7] Manufacturers were enthusiastic due to the possibility of using motor racing as a shop window for their cars. [7] The first motor race took place on 22 July 1894 and was organised by Le Petit Journal , a Parisian newspaper. It was run over the 122 kilometres (76 mi) distance between Paris and Rouen. The race was won by de Dion, although he was not awarded the prize for first place as his steam-powered car required a stoker and the judges deemed this outside of their objectives. [8]

Dreyfus affair and L'Auto

The roots of both the Tour de France cycle race and L'Auto ( L'Équipe ), a daily sporting newspaper, can be traced to the Dreyfus affair and de Dion's passionate opinion and actions regarding it.

Opinions were heated and there were demonstrations by both sides in the Dreyfus affair. Historian Eugen Weber described an 1899 conflagration at the Auteuil horse-race course in Paris as "an absurd political shindig" when, among other events, the President of France (Émile Loubet) was struck on the head by a walking stick wielded by de Dion. [9] [10] He served 15 days in jail and was fined 100 francs, [10] [11] and his behaviour was heavily criticised by Le Vélo , the largest daily sports newspaper in France, and its Dreyfusard editor, Pierre Giffard.

As a result, de Dion withdrew all his advertising from the paper, [12] [13] and in 1900, he led a group of wealthy 'anti-Dreyfusard' manufacturers, including Édouard Michelin and Adolphe Clément, to start a rival daily sports paper, L'Auto-Velo , and compete directly with Le Velo. De Dion and Michelin were also concerned with Le Vélo – which reported more than cycling – because its financial backer was one of their commercial rivals, the Darracq company. De Dion believed that Le Vélo gave Darracq too much attention and him too little. After a legally enforced change of name to L'Auto, it in turn created the Tour de France race in 1903 to boost falling circulation. [14]

De Dion was an outspoken man who already wrote columns for Le Figaro , Le Matin and others. His wealth allowed him to indulge his whims, which also included refounding Le Nain jaune (The Yellow Gnome), a fortnightly publication which "answers no particular need." [15]

Notes

  1. 1 2 3 Wise, David Burgess, "De Dion: The Aristocrat and the Toymaker", in Ward, Ian, executive editor. The World of Automobiles (London: Orbis Publishing, 1974), Volume 5, p. 510.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 Georgano, G. N. Cars: Early and Vintage, 1886–1930. (London: Grange-Universal, 1990), p. 27.
  3. Georgano, G. N. Cars: Early and Vintage, 1886–1930. (London: Grange-Universal, 1990), p. 24 cap.
  4. Wise, David Burgess, "De Dion: The Aristocrat and the Toymaker", in Ward, Ian, executive editor. The World of Automobiles (London: Orbis Publishing, 1974), Volume 5, p. 511.
  5. "Automobilia". Toutes les voitures françaises 1920 (Salon [Paris, Oct] 1919). Paris: Histoire & collections. Nr. 31: 61. 2004.
  6. Wise, David Burgess, "De Dion: The Aristocrat and the Toymaker", in Ward, Ian, executive editor. The World of Automobiles (London: Orbis Publishing, 1974), Volume 5, p. 514.
  7. 1 2 Rendall, Ivan (1995). The Chequered Flag. Weidenfeld and Nicolson. p. 10. ISBN   0-297-83550-5.
  8. Rendall, Ivan (1995). The Chequered Flag. Weidenfeld and Nicolson. p. 12. ISBN   0-297-83550-5.
  9. Stephen L. Harp (13 November 2001). Marketing Michelin: Advertising and Cultural Identity in Twentieth-Century France . JHU Press. p.  20. ISBN   978-0-8018-6651-7. le velo newspaper.
  10. 1 2 Weber, Eugen (2003), foreword to "Tour de France: 1903–2003", eds. Dauncey, Hugh and Hare, Geoff, Routledge, USA, ISBN   978-0-7146-5362-4, p. xi.
  11. Boeuf, Jean-Luc, and Léonard, Yves (2003); La République de Tour de France, Seuil, France.
  12. Boeuf, Jean-Luc, and Léonard, Yves (2003), La République du Tour de France, Seuil, France, p. 23.
  13. Nicholson, Geoffrey (1991) Le Tour, the rise and rise of the Tour de France, Hodder and Stoughton, UK.
  14. Dauncey, Hugh; Hare, Geoff (2 August 2004). The Tour De France, 1903–2003: A Century of Sporting Structures, Meanings and Values. Routledge. pp. 6–7. ISBN   978-1-135-76239-1.
  15. Le Naine Jaune.

Related Research Articles

Grand Prix motor racing, a form of motorsport competition, has its roots in organised automobile racing that began in France as early as 1894. It quickly evolved from simple road races from one town to the next, to endurance tests for car and driver. Innovation and the drive of competition soon saw speeds exceeding 100 miles per hour (160 km/h), but because early races took place on open roads, accidents occurred frequently, resulting in deaths both of drivers and of spectators. A common abbreviation used for Grand Prix racing is "GP" or "GP racing".

<i>LÉquipe</i> French sports newspaper

L'Équipe is a French nationwide daily newspaper devoted to sport, owned by Éditions Philippe Amaury. The paper is noted for coverage of association football, rugby, motorsport and cycling. Its predecessor was L'Auto, a general sports paper whose name reflected not any narrow interest but the excitement of the time in car racing.

Quadricycle small motorized four wheeled vehicle

Quadricycle refers to vehicles with four wheels.

Ateliers de Construction Mecanique lAster

L'Aster, Aster, Ateliers de Construction Mecanique l'Aster, was a French manufacturer of automobiles and the leading supplier of engines to other manufacturers from the late 1890s until circa 1910/12. Although primarily known as an engine mass manufacturer the company also produced chassis for coach-works and a complete range of components.

Benz Velo Motor vehicle

The Benz Velo was one of the first cars, introduced by Karl Benz in 1894 as the followup to the Patent Motorwagen. 67 Benz Velos were built in 1894 and 134 in 1895. The early Velo had a 1L 1.5-metric-horsepower engine, and later a 3-metric-horsepower engine. giving a top speed of 19 km/h (12 mph). The Velo was officially introduced by Karl Benz as the Velocipede, and became the world's first large-scale production car. The Velocipede remained in production between 1894 and 1902, with a final count of over 1,200 produced.

De Dion tube

A de Dion tube is an automobile suspension technology. It is a sophisticated form of non-independent suspension and is a considerable improvement over the swing axle, Hotchkiss drive, or live axle. Because it plays no part in transmitting power to the drive wheels, it is sometimes called a "dead axle".

De Dion-Bouton French automobile company

De Dion-Bouton was a French automobile manufacturer and railcar manufacturer operating from 1883 to 1953. The company was founded by the Marquis Jules-Albert de Dion, Georges Bouton, and Bouton's brother-in-law Charles Trépardoux.

Étienne Lenoir Belgian-French engineer

Jean Joseph Étienne Lenoir also known as Jean J. Lenoir was a Belgian-French engineer who developed the internal combustion engine in 1858. Prior designs for such engines were patented as early as 1807, but none were commercially successful. Lenoir's engine was commercialized in sufficient quantities to be considered a success, a first for the internal combustion engine.

Gaston de Chasseloup-Laubat French racing driver

Count Gaston de Chasseloup-Laubat was a French aristocrat and race car driver. He was the son of Prosper, Marquis of Chasseloup-Laubat, minister of the Navy under Napoleon III, and of his American wife Marie-Louise Pilié.

The 1907 Grand Prix season was the second Grand Prix racing season. It saw a blossoming of circuit events, with the shift from the inter-city races. The popularity of the inaugural French Grand Prix and Targa Florio saw those events held again. The new Kaiserpreis was the first major motor-race held in Germany. This year also saw a number of voiteurette races as the number of specialist small-engine cars grew which gave close, exciting racing very popular with spectators.

La Marquise

La Marquise is the world's oldest running automobile, as of 2011. It is an 1884 model made by Frenchmen De Dion, Bouton and Trépardoux. The car was a quadricycle prototype named for de Dion's mother.

Pierre Giffard

Pierre Giffard was a French journalist, a pioneer of modern political reporting, a newspaper publisher and a prolific sports organiser. In 1892, he was appointed Chevalier (Knight) of the Légion d'Honneur and in 1900 he was appointed an Officier (Officer) of the Légion d'Honneur.

Le Vélo was the leading French sports newspaper from its inception on 1 December 1892 until it ceased publication in 1904. Mixing sports reporting with news and political comment, it achieved a circulation of 80,000 copies a day. Its use of sporting events as promotional tools led to the creation of the Paris–Roubaix cycle race in 1896, and the popularisation of the Bordeaux–Paris cycle race during the 1890s.

Georges Bouton

Georges Bouton (1847–1938) was a French toymaker and engineer who with fellow Frenchman Jules-Albert de Dion founded the De Dion-Bouton company in 1883. The pair first worked together in 1882 to produce a self-propelled steam vehicle. The result gave birth to the company which, at the time, went under the name de Dion.

Léon Théry

Léon Théry was a French racing driver, nicknamed "Le Chronometer", who won the premier European race, the Gordon Bennett Cup, in both 1904 and 1905.

The Paris–Marseille–Paris race was the first competitive 'city to city' motor race, where the first car across the line was the winner, prior events having selected the winner by various forms of classification and judging. The race was won by Émile Mayade who completed the ten-day, 1,710 km, event over unsurfaced roads in 67 hours driving a Panhard et Levassor.

Société Parisienne

Société Parisienne was a French manufacturer of velocipedes, bicycles and tricycles from 1876. They began limited automobile construction in 1894 and regular light car (voiturette) construction in 1898 or 1899, and they ceased operation in 1903. The vehicles, variously known as Parisienne, Victoria Combination, Eureka, l'Eclair, Duc-Spider and Duc-Tonneau, were manufactured by Société Parisienne E. Couturier et Cie of Paris.

Barré (automobile)

Barré was a French automobile manufacturer established by Gaston Barré at Niort. Some sources give the starting date for the business as 1900, although Barré’s first automobile was presented in December 1899 at the Paris Motor Show. Production ended in 1930.

Auto racing began in the mid-19th century. It became an organized sport, which has grown in popularity ever since.

Mishaps of the New York–Paris Race was a 1908 French silent comedy film directed by Georges Méliès. Inspired by the real 1908 New York to Paris Race, which concluded shortly before its release, the film followed a group of racers through a hectic series of unlikely obstacles and adventures across North America, Russia, and Western Europe in a highly unreliable race car. Film scholars have noted parallels to earlier Méliès films, including The Impossible Voyage and An Adventurous Automobile Trip, and have commented on elements of racism in the scenario, but the film itself is currently presumed lost.

References