Thornycroft Double Phaeton

1903 Thornycroft 20HP Double Phaeton

Offered by Bonhams | London, U.K. | October 30, 2020

Photo – Bonhams

Thornycroft was mostly known for its commercial vehicles, but for a decade in their early years (1903-1913), they also produced passenger cars. The company was founded as a shipbuilder in 1864 and produced its first motor vehicle – a steam van – in 1896. Thornycroft was absorbed by AEC in 1961 and was gone by 1977.

This double phaeton is powered by a 20-horsepower 2.5-liter inline-four. It was owned by a member of the Thornycroft family (supposedly one of the automotive arm founders) from new until 1957, and it’s had three owners since. Bonhams notes that the car has never failed to complete the London-to-Brighton run, but neglects to tell us just how many times it has accomplished the feat. It is entered in this year’s event.

Only about 450 Thornycroft passenger cars were built, and they are exceedingly rare today (this is, perhaps, the first one to come up for public auction in nearly a decade). The pre-sale estimate is $440,000-$470,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Marble-Swift

1903 Marble-Swift Model C

Offered by The Vault | Online | October 1-14, 2020

Photo – The Vault

The Marble-Swift Automobile Company of Chicago, Illinois, was around for a short time: from 1903 through 1905. It was founded by George W. Marble and George P. Swift. They offered a two-cylinder runabout for the first two years and sold a four-cylinder touring car in 1905.

This car is powered by an inline-three, which is weird because they never advertised such a car. The online lot description notes that it was probably a prototype, but really anything is possible. It could’ve been assembled from random parts in the 1950s. Who knows. Marble-Swift’s big innovation was a gearless twin-disc friction transmission.

Little is known about this particular car, but it’s selling at no reserve out of this collection. The “Model C” portion also seems to have been made up (as if the twin and four-cylinder cars were models A and B respectively). At any rate, it’s a very interesting, 117-year-old car. Click here for more info.

1903 Dyke

1903 Dyke No. 1 Gasoline Runabout

Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Hershey, Pennsylvania | October 10-11, 2019

Photo Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

Andrew Dyke founded the first automobile supply catalog business in 1899. But because no one really yet needed parts, he decided to build some cars (and sell some kit cars) while he waiting for the need to arise.

This is one of the kits, as his early cars were electrics, and the 1904 Dyke-Britton was a four-cylinder touring car. Essentially, you bought the running chassis from Dyke and them went about sourcing a body. This is powered by either a one or two-cylinder engine – the auction catalog does not make it clear, and the photos are not of any help.

Only three such cars remain, and the current owner of this car purchased it directly from a Harrah dispersal sale in 1985. It’s been freshened and modified (slightly) for an improved top speed: 30 mph. You can read more about this no reserve car here and see more from RM here.

Update: Sold $60,500.

Miniature Velox

1903 Velox Miniature Velox

Offered by Bonhams | Beaulieu, U.K. | September 7, 2019

Photo – Bonhams

The Velox Motor Co. Ltd. of Coventry began producing cars in 1902. They offered at least three models during their short history (they went out of business in 1904), ranging from 20 horsepower touring cars to this, the Miniature Velox.

It is powered by a single-cylinder engine rated at 3.5 horsepower. The car included some pretty bizarre features for 1903: a tubular frame, an inverted suspension, and a front-engine/rear-wheel-drive layout, and dual chain drive (one going from the engine to the mid-mounted gearbox, and one going from there to the live rear axle).

Though they were around for three years and offered multiple models, the company only produced 21 automobiles. Total. And this is the only one that survives. It is London-to-Brighton eligible and should sell for between $48,000-$60,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $64,454.

Rambler Model E Runabout

1903 Rambler Model E Runabout

Offered by Bonhams | London, U.K. | November 2, 2018

Photo – Bonhams

Thomas B. Jeffrey‘s Rambler premiered in 1900 and the first models went on sale to the public in 1902. The Model E was new for 1904 – it was the most basic model the company offered. This car is listed in the catalog as a 1903 model, meaning it was probably built at the end of that year.

Power is from a seven horsepower, single-cylinder engine. This car rides on a 78″ wheelbase, the shortest offered in 1904. It features tiller steering and seating for two.

This car was sold new in Virginia, where it remained with its original owner until 1956. It was restored twice, most recently in 1995 and has competed in the London-to-Brighton run on multiple occasions. It should bring between $60,000-$66,000. Click here for more info and here for more from Bonhams.

Update: Sold $62,756.

24HP Darracq

1903 Darracq 24HP Model JJ Rear-Entrance Tonneau

Offered by Bonhams | London, U.K. | November 2, 2018

Photo – Bonhams

There seems to be a Darracq at Bonhams’ London-to-Brighton sale every year. And we never get to feature it. Not this year!. This 24HP Darracq was restored in the 1990s and is still winning awards. It successfully completed the 1903 Paris-Madrid race with its first owner, even though the race was halted due to fatalities.

Power is from a 4.7-liter straight-four good for 24 horsepower. Top speed is about 50 mph and this car is actually a little smaller than it looks. Most rear-entrance tonneaus are quite large, but just look at how compact the wheelbase looks for an estimate of this car’s size.

This is a high-quality car, as all big Darracqs of this vintage are. It is one of two in existence and should bring between $730,000-$860,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $779,115.

Ford’s First Model

1903 Ford Model A Open Tourer

Offered by Bonhams | Hillegom, Netherlands | June 23, 2018

Photo – Bonhams

Henry Ford had two companies that failed before the Ford Motor Company finally found its footing. The first model that they put on sale was the Model A, the original Model A, not the one from the late-20s. It was only sold in 1903 and transformed into the Model AC for 1904.

The engine is a 1.6-liter flat-twin. Horsepower was rated at eight. Two body styles were offered: a two-passenger runabout or a larger four-seat tonneau as you see here. This car would’ve cost $850 when new but it was handily outsold by other cars at the time. Ford wouldn’t perfect that famous low-price approach for another decade or so.

Ford maintains that they built 670 examples of the Model A, though other sources differ. The exact history of this particular car is unknown at the time of this writing, but it is coming out of an all-Ford museum in the Netherlands. If you want to know more about it, click here. It’s expected that this early piece of American automotive history should bring between $75,000-$95,000. Click here for more from this museum liquidation.

Update: Sold $167,440.

Eldredge

1903 Eldredge 8HP Runabout

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

Photo – Bonhams

Bonhams’ London-to-Brighton sale is always full of interesting veteran cars – but most of them are usually European. But here we have an interesting American automobile. The National Sewing Machine Company began building bicycles in 1894 and followed it with cars from 1903 to 1906. The Eldredge name comes from the president of the sewing machine company that was based in Belvidere, Illinois.

This wonderfully brassy runabout is similar to others of the day with one major exception: it has a steering wheel on the left-hand side of the car. The first few Eldredges had tiller steering but the company became one of the first to feature LHD steering wheels. It’s kind of amazing to think today that this was something that someone actually had to be the first to do.

The engine is an eight horsepower flat-twin. This was the only body style that Eldredge ever offered and about 600 were sold over four years. This is one of three examples from the marque that are known to exist and it has known history going back to the 1960s. It should bring between $60,000-$73,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Cadillac Model A

1903 Cadillac Model A Rear-Entrance Tonneau

Offered by Dragone Auctions | Lime Rock, Connecticut | September 3, 2017

Photo – Dragone Auctions

When the Henry Ford Company went belly-up in 1902, the company’s investors brought in Henry Leland to appraise what was left. Instead of giving them an assessment, Leland convinced them to reorganize the firm and the Cadillac Automobile Company was formed. It’s first model was this runabout that used a Leland-designed engine.

The first Cadillacs were built at the end of 1902 and these were not technically called “Model As.”  There were some of the same model built in 1903 (as 1904 models) that differed only in that they had more power and a detachable top. These were officially called “Model As.” This is likely one of the cars constructed in 1902 that pre-dated the official Model A, but most people just put all of these cars under the Model A umbrella. Confused yet?

That Leland-designed engine is a 1.6-liter single-cylinder that makes 6.5 horsepower (which correctly dates this as a 1903 model built in 1902). This perfectly restored example is one of just 2,497 examples built. It cost $850 when new and will bring likely at least 100 times that next weekend. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $80,940.

1903 Gladiator

1903 Gladiator 10HP 2-Cylinder Rear-Entrance Tonneau

Offered by Bonhams | Goodwood, U.K. | March 19, 2017

Photo – Bonhams

Alexandre Darracq co-founded the Gladiator Cycle Company with Paul Aucoq in 1891 in the northeast part of Paris. Gladiator became part of the tangled mess of companies that came into contact with Adolphe Clement. So here it goes: in 1896, Clement bought out Gladiator from Darracq (who then went on to other automotive endeavors) and renamed the company Clement-Gladiator.

Cars came around 1901 (and motorcycles from 1902). In 1903 there was a split and Clement-Talbot became its own thing, while Clement-Gladiator remained in France. All shaft-driven cars were badged Clement-Gladiator after this point, while chain-driven cars were just called Gladiators. In 1907, all cars became Gladiators after the company was taken over by Vinot et Deguingand. The brand disappeared after 1920.

This chain-drive Gladiator was produced during the Clement years and is powered by a 1.7-liter twin-cylinder Aster engine making 10 horsepower. The current owner acquired it in 1990 and had the engine rebuilt. It’s been used extensively on the London-to-Brighton run (and we mean “extensively” – it’s completed the run 24 of the 25 times it’s attempted it) and the coachwork is original, but may have had some restorative work done to it long ago. It’s a great old car, and should bring between $160,000-$200,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $175,291.