Cars from 1878 to 1920 - The forerunners
De Dion-Bouton « Populaire »
Body style: two-seater
The birth of the Type J, following in the footsteps of the famous Types E and G, was hailed as the automobile’s coming of age. It was becoming clear that modern cars would feature an engine at the front and the driver behind a steering wheel. However, the radiator is in a curious position under the bonnet, with the crank starter running right through it.
The “Populaire” with its single-cylinder 700 cc engine (equivalent to a large motorbike today), could reach speeds of 45 kph (28 mph), which seems more than reasonable in the light of the lack of front brakes and the modest size of the rear brake drums. The two-seater body, which is simple but robust, formed the rest of the vehicle, weighing in at only 400 kg.
The popularity of the Type J – small, but reliable and easy to use – led to the moniker “Populaire”, which stuck.