Our family’s acquaintance with De Dion Bouton started in 1934, when a relation purchased a 1902 Type O rear entrance tonneau from Patrick Motors in Birmingham. It had been actively campaigned for 70 years before arriving at our home in Sussex fifteen years ago. The usual quest to discover the vehicle’s history began, and that inevitably led to meeting other owners of similar cars, and at that point the flow of information started, and articles were produced for various motoring magazines.
The compilation of a Register of extant De Dion Bouton vehicles of the marque in the UK was another outcome. Registers of vehicles are essential documents for all motoring clubs to have, but they are inevitably limited in scope, always out of date as soon as they are produced, and invariably prompt rather more questions than a simple listing can ever answer. At the same time, the number of published works in English on De Dion Bouton has been sparse in the last fifty years other than the short, well-written volumes by Anthony Bird that appeared in the 1970’s. This scenario is somewhat surprising given the popularity of the Company’s output: the annual London to Brighton Veteran Car Run has more De Dion Bouton cars participating than any other make, and the De Dion Bouton UK Club is the most successful one make veteran club with more than 250 members.
Motorvations, the regular publication of the De Dion Bouton UK Club, edited by Nicholas Pellett, has made a huge contribution to the knowledge of De Dion Bouton vehicles, and their historical context, but it was difficult to escape the conclusion that a comprehensive history of De Dion Bouton cars in English was required.
The first volume: De Dion Bouton: An Illustrated Guide to Type & Specification, 1899-1904,was published in Autumn 2016, and received a generous welcome from a number of reviewers and recipients (see Reviews). The sequel for the period 1905-14appeared at the end of 2017.
The narrative of the evolution of the tricycle and its short-lived successor, the quadricycle, was published in December 2018 as The Tricycle Book 1895-1902, Part One, De Dion Bouton and its Contemporaries. This era ofthe evolution of motoring could not be portrayed simply by reference to De Dion Bouton, and so the volume paints the picture of activity in Europe, by referencing more than 40 manufacturers and engine builders, including Aster, Clement, Darracq, Marot-Gardon, Peugeot and Renaux from France. TThe second volume was published at the end of 2019, focussing entirely on Great Britain. There are sections on Beeston, MMC, Ariel, Humber, Swift, Dennis, Riley, Singer and others. as well as important distributors and wholesalers such as Brown Brothers, Friswell and the Eadie Manufacturing Company.
The production of Apsley and Old Cars represented a new venture for the Surrenden Press, but it provided an exciting opportunity to showcase the work of one of the country’s most proficient and prolific motoring cartoonists, and bring the drawings of Tony Phillips-Smith, a close family friend for more than forty years, to a wider audience.
Surrenden Press is a small-scale family business that aims to provide limited run books of quality to motoring enthusiasts. Comments about the books produced, and potential projects are always welcomed, and correspondence is responded to promptly.