Salvesen Steam Cart

1896 Salvesen Steam Cart

Offered by Bonhams | London, U.K. | November 3, 2017

Photo – Bonhams

It’s Halloween and what’s scarier than a big, loud steam engine? I’m not so sure I’d call this a car so much as a locomotive that can be driven on the street. I mean, look at the crew involved to operate it. It’s incredible!

This vehicle was designed by a member of the Salvesen family, a wealthy Scottish family involved in shipping and transport since the 1870s. It is powered by a coal-fired boiler, two-cylinders and chain drive. The photo above shows a pull cart behind but the catalog photography does not. It has two rows of seating.

It was part of two large collections spanning many decades. The current owners bought it in 2004 and it has competed in every London-to-Brighton run since, failing to finish only once. This one-of-a-kind vehicle from Victorian England is truly awesome. That it still runs and is driveable is icing on the cake. This could be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and it’ll take between $200,000-$270,000 to take it home. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $207,516.

Benz Velo

1896 Benz Velo

Offered by Dragone Auctions | Westport, Connecticut | June 4, 2016

Photo - Dragone Auctions

Photo – Dragone Auctions

This is one of the most important cars of all time. The Benz Patent-Motorwagen is the first automobile. Karl Benz built about 25 of them before altering the design and changing the name. The Benz Velo was the second car he built. Along with the Duryea Motor Wagon, the Velo is regarded as the first production car.

It is powered by a 1.0-liter single-cylinder engine making 1.5 horsepower. Top speed is 15 mph, which would probably be slightly terrifying for modern drivers. This car is listed as well “preserved” with its original body and lamps. That’s remarkable. It’s 120 years old. To put that in perspective… 9/11 was as far in the past when compared to today as the Gunfight at the O.K Corral is to the time when this car was built.

The Velo (which is short for “Velocipede, by the way) was built between 1894-1901. Only 67 were built in 1894, but that jumped up to 134 in 1895. In all, slightly more than 1,200 were built. That’s a low number, but that number stopped growing over 100 years ago. These are historical artifacts – that you can use. This one had one owner from 1922 to 1972, which is kind of crazy. It’s just incredible, all around. No estimate is available, but get ready to outbid museums. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

1896 Raynaud

1896 Raynaud Vis-à-Vis Prototype

Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Paris, France | February 3, 2016

Photo - RM Sotheby's

Photo – RM Sotheby’s

Here’s a car you aren’t likely to find anything else about. It is probably the only one built and was ahead of its time. It is thought that this car was constructed by Claude Raynaud of Flayosc, France. Nothing known ties him to the automobile industry in any way, so why he built this is kind of a mystery.

It is powered by a 3.8-liter two-cylinder engine. It has a gear transmission, which nearly no other car had at this point. And you’ll notice that it has a steering wheel in place of a tiller, something that wouldn’t be standard for years to come.

This car was discovered in France in 1975. It has been repainted and has had new solid tires fitted, but that is the extent of the work done to in in nearly 120 years. This one-of-a-kind car is being offered out of a private collection and can now be yours. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $149,980.

Update II: Not sold, Bonhams’ London-to-Brighton 2016.

1896 Armstrong Phaeton

1896 Armstrong Phaeton

Offered by RM Auctions | Hershey, Pennsylvania | October 9, 2014

Photo - RM Auctions

Photo – RM Auctions

This is one of the oldest cars we’ve ever featured and it’s apparently the only car ever built by the Armstrong Manufacturing Company of Bridgeport, Connecticut. This car was completed in 1896 but was likely built between 1894 and 1895. It’s huge – a literal horseless carriage. And frankly, it’s kind of scary looking. But I love it.

The engine is a 6.0-liter twin and the car features a number of ingenious features that wouldn’t be found on cars for at least another 20 years – such as a silent, electromagnetic starter. It’s fascinating. It competed in a race shortly after completion and was placed on sale in New York City after the race. It didn’t sell, and Armstrong took it back to Connecticut.

Armstrong built products until 1950 when it was purchased by Capewell Manufacturing. The car was moved and in 1963 found its way into a Capewell employee’s garage. In 1995, it was discovered by the outside public and has had a few owners since. It’s a remarkable automobile that has been sorted and works. It should bring between $550,000-$700,000 and it’s worth every penny of that. Click here for more info and here for more from RM in Hershey.

Update: Not sold, high bid of $375,000.

Update II: Sold, Bonhams Amelia Island 2016, $483,400.

1896 Léon Bollée

1896 Léon Bollée Voiturette

Offered by RM Auctions | Nysted, Denmark | August 12, 2012

This is probably the final car we’ll be featuring from the Aalholm Automobile Collection sale that RM is holding mere days before the festivities in Monterey. There are at least 15 other cars from this sale that I wanted to feature but have just run out of time with the Monterey catalogs becoming available and the incredible offerings on hand.

This is right there with some of the most interesting from Monterey. It’s certainly older. The Bollée name is an important one in automotive history. Amédée Bollée, whose original goal was to set the record for most accented “e”s in a person’s name, ended up building some of the earliest road-going (as in, not on rails) steam carriages known. He built four steam cars, the first in 1873 and the last in 1881, which is mind-boggling. Two of these vehicles still exist in museums. Also: he resided in a little town called Le Mans.

Amédée had two sons: Amédée the second and Léon. Before cars, Léon spent his time inventing calculating machines – early calculators that resembled typewriters. In 1895 he founded Automobiles Léon Bollée in Le Mans. 1896 was the first year for the “Voiturette,” the interesting design you see here, which is from the first year of production. The single-cylinder engine was mounted horizontally beside and to the rear of the driver, who sat in back – the passenger(s) rode in the front, no doubt sometimes making it hard for the driver to see! It was also one of (if not the) first car to have rubber tires.

Larger cars followed in 1903 and the company was purchased from Léon’s widow in 1922 by Morris of England (Léon died in 1913). The Léon Bollée name disappeared from vehicles after 1933. There is a statue of Léon in his hometown of Le Mans on Avenue du Général Leclerc directly across and up the street from the train station. I’ve seen it and my traveling companions failed to see why it was interesting.

I’ve seen one of these vehicles before too – there is one in the National Automobile Museum in Reno (The Harrah Collection). It is an 1897. So you can own one that is older. These are extremely interesting cars from the pioneering days of motoring and while other examples do exist, it is genuinely rare. There are many interesting cars at this sale, but this tops them all. The price is estimated between $55,000-$60,000. That might not seem like a lot for a car I claim to be so fantastic, but that is because cars like this have limited potential for use, which is what keeps their price down (you can’t take it on a Sunday cruise and there is no outlandish coachwork that will bring you heaps of awards). Trust me, this thing is amazing (and it has been restored at some point, unlike many of the other cars at this sale).

For more pictures and the complete catalog description, click here. And to view the rest of the vehicles at this sale, click here.

Update: Sold $129,800.