World's oldest car sells for $4.6 million

October 10, 2011: 4:57 PM ET

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- A steam-powered car, billed as the oldest car in the world that still runs, was sold at a Hershey, Pa. auction late Friday for $4.6 million.

The auction company, RM Auctions, had estimated that the car would sell for about half that much. It represents the highest price ever paid for an early automobile at auction. The price includes a 10% "buyer's premium" which goes to the auction company.

The name of the buyer has not been made public.

The car was built in France in 1884, about a year before Gottlieb Daimler and Karl Benz of Germany, who went on to found the carmakers that would become Daimler (DDAIF), maker of Mercedes-Benz luxury cars, built their first experimental gasoline-powered cars. (The two were working independently of one another.) Henry Ford finished his first garage-built car 12 years after this one. He later went on to found the Ford Motor Company (F, Fortune 500) and incidentally, he also founded the carmaker that would ultimately become the Cadillac division of General Motors (GM, Fortune 500).

The four-wheeled De Dion-Bouton et Trepardoux, nicknamed "La Marquise," was originally built for the French Count De Dion, one of the founders of the company that built it.

Fueled by coal, wood and bits of paper, the car takes about a half-hour to work up enough steam to drive. Top speed is 38 miles per hour. The car came close to that speed during what has been billed as the world's first automobile race in 1887, according to RM Auctions.

The car had last been sold in 2007 for about $3.5 million at a Pebble Beach, Calif. auction. To top of page

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