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.

English Mechanic Steam Car

1903 English Mechanic Steam Car

For Sale at Thiesen Hamburg GmbH | Hamburg, Germany

Photo - Thiesen Hamburg GmbH

Photo – Thiesen Hamburg GmbH

There are always people who think outside of the box when it comes to automobiles and how to sell them. Right now there is a lot of talk about Tesla foregoing the traditional dealer model. Early on, cars like the Metz offered cars on installment plans – where they’d mail you the car piece by piece for home assembly. And then there is this, the so-called English Mechanic, which was never even a car company at all.

The English Mechanic and World of Science was a magazine produced in the U.K. between 1865 through 1926. In 1900, they had a series of articles about how to build a small car from scratch, including instructions on where to find parts you couldn’t (or didn’t want to) make yourself. Over the next nine years, they had instructions for five different models. And people did it.

In fact, four cars – collectively known as the English Mechanics due to their source, but not necessarily who built them – still survive. This example is the Steam Car model that uses a two-cylinder steam engine (and very locomotive-like exhaust). It’s sort of like the first kit car. No one knows who actually built it, but they’re certain the design came straight out of a magazine. It spent a lot of time in a museum and is currently for sale in Germany for about $72,000. Click here for more info.

Humber Forecar

1903 Humber 2¾hp Olympia Tandem Forecar

Offered by Bonhams | London, U.K. | November 4, 2016

Photo - Bonhams

Photo – Bonhams

Thomas Humber began selling bicycles in the 1880s in England and in 1898 introduced their first “car” – a three-wheeler based on a motorcycle, much like the one you see here. More traditional, four-wheeled cars appeared in 1901. A long and interesting history followed, culminating in Humber, as part of Chrysler Europe, being sold to Peugeot and the Humber marque was renamed Talbot, before being phased out in 1986 – 100 years after the introduction of their first motorized vehicle.

Early motorcycles did not have room enough for two riders. So if you wanted the convenience of a motorcycle but the passenger capacity of a small car, a Tandem Forecar like this was your best bet. Many companies that existed in the early days of the automobile that built motorcycles offered similar things. This one is powered by a 2.75 horsepower 403cc single-cylinder engine.

Formerly a part of the Rootes Group Heritage Collection (Humber was owned by the Rootes Group from about 1929 through 1967), this Forecar is among the oldest known Humbers in existence. It will take a slight effort to get it running again, but it has been fastidiously maintained and wants to get back on the road. It should sell for between $43,000-$49,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $45,966.

Stanley Steamer

1903 Stanley CX 6.5HP Steam Runabout

Offered by Bonhams | London, U.K. | October 30, 2015

Photo - Bonhams

Photo – Bonhams

The Stanley is an iconic American automobile. The Stanley brothers built one of America’s largest early automotive manufacturers and they did it on the basis of steam. While the coffin-nose Stanleys are quite famous, it’s these earlier, simpler-looking cars that helped make the company what it became.

1903 was the third year for Stanley production and three models were offered, with the two-cylinder Model CX being at the top of the heap. The CX was an eight horsepower car and the Model C was the 6.5 horsepower car. Both had identical bodies. So take your pick as to what this car really is.

The car is in great shape and has had work done recently to keep it going. It’s a runner and a driver that can be used with pride. Steam cars take a special sort – as well as $54,000-$62,000. Click here for more info and here for more from one of our favorite sales of the year.

Update: Sold $61,742.

Five Pre-1910 Cars

1909 Sears Model H

Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Hershey, Pennsylvania | October 9, 2015

Photo - RM Sotheby's

Photo – RM Sotheby’s

If you didn’t know that American’s legendary department store catalog offered automobiles, well here’s your history lesson. Between 1908 and 1912, Sears sold cars (high wheelers for the most part because the target audience were rural Americans who ordered things from catalogs). They did it again for a few years in the 1950s with the Allstate.

The Model H uses a 10 horsepower flat-twin and was identical to the 1908 model. The lineup started at model G and ran to the Model L, with each successive letter adding a few more creature comforts and/or styling bits. The restoration here is over a decade old but it is a perfect runner, as Sears’ cars were definitely rugged and reliable. It should bring between $30,000-$50,000. Click here for more info.

Update: Sold $24,750.


1907 Victor Runabout

Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Hershey, Pennsylvania | October 8, 2015

Photo - RM Sotheby's

Photo – RM Sotheby’s

Here’s an interesting one. The lot description makes it seem like there is a little uncertainty as to which of the many Victor automobile marques this is actually related to. Some historical work was carried out and it was determined that this is related to the Overman company of Chicopee Falls, Massachusetts, who produced the Victor Steam car between 1899 and 1903. Our sources don’t show production after 1903, so I’ll take RM’s word for it (they’re pretty smart).

It is powered by a 15 horsepower flat-twin and the restoration dates back to 1967. An early car without a crystal clear birth certificate is always interesting. This car will be a talking point wherever it goes and the new owner will have something absolutely unique and fun. It should bring between $10,000-$15,000. Click here for more info.

Update: Sold $22,000.


1903 Pierce Model 6.5 Stanhope

Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Hershey, Pennsylvania | October 8, 2015

Photo - RM Sotheby's

Photo – RM Sotheby’s

This pre-Arrow Pierce is one of the oldest cars on offer during the Hershey festivities this year. This car is concurrently referred to as a “Fourth Model”, a Model 6-6½, and a Single-Cylinder Stanhope. Pierce offered three models in 1903, and this was the mid-range product.

The engine is a single-cylinder, 6.5-horsepower unit. It has single-family ownership back to 1948. The car was never completely restored, just brought up to good-looking usable condition around 1948. It is usable today. Less than 150 off these were built and this one could bring between $75,000-$100,000. Click here for more info.

Update: Sold $57,750.


1903 Columbus Electric Folding-Top Runabout

Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Hershey, Pennsylvania | October 9, 2015

Photo - RM Sotheby's

Photo – RM Sotheby’s

One great thing about the early days of automobiles is that there were just so many companies. And some names re-appear multiple times but separately. Columbus is one such name. There were at least four different Columbus makes (not including Columbia). At least two of them built electric cars at some point. This Columbus, Ohio-built example is from the Columbus Buggy Company who built electric cars between 1903 and 1915.

The 1903 through 1905 Folding-Top Runabout was the only model offered by the company. It is powered by a low-power DC electric motor. It’s simple, pretty, and basically, an historical artifact. Only bits of this car have actually been redone, meaning it is partly original. It should bring between $100,000-$150,000. Click here for more info.

Update: Not sold.


1908 Holsman High-Wheel Runabout

Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Hershey, Pennsylvania | October 8, 2015

Photo - RM Sotheby's

Photo – RM Sotheby’s

Holsman of Chicago built high-wheelers between 1902 and 1910. Quite a few of them remain, which is fortunate because as you can see, they can actually be quite pretty. Look how big those wheels are! The black paint is nice and shiny with gorgeous red pin striping.

Holsman offered four models in 1908, all high-wheelers. They were all powered by a 12.8 horsepower 1.6-liter flat-twin. Three of the models were Runabouts – models 5, 9, and 10. It is unclear which of these models this car represents, as well as what the difference between those model designations even is. What a good-looking car. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $38,500.

1903 Thomas

1903 Thomas Model 18 Tonneau

Offered by Bonhams | Amelia Island, Florida | March 12, 2015

Photo - Bonhams

Photo – Bonhams

Edwin Ross Thomas and this E.R. Thomas Motor Company began producing automobiles in 1903 after years of engine and motorized bicycle sales. This is the same company that would became famous for the Thomas Flyer – one of America’s most famous automobiles because of its 1908 New York to Paris Race win.

This 1903 Model 18 is one of two models produced by Thomas in 1903. The cars were more or less identical except in trim, and this was the more expensive model and it was only offered in this body style. The engine is an eight horsepower single-cylinder.

This car sports a fresh restoration and its French-style body rides on glorious white tires (a ClassicCarWeekly.net fave!). We aren’t sure how many of these are left, but it can’t be many. Check out more from Bonhams here and see more from this sale here.

Update: Not sold.

Malicet et Blin

1903 Malicet et Blin 8HP Four-Seater Rear-Entrance Tonneau

Offered by Bonhams | London, U.K. | October 31, 2014

Photo - Bonhams

Photo – Bonhams

Cars like this are the reason that Bonhams’ London to Brighton sale is one that I look forward to every year – more than most other sales. They find some really obscure, really old cars that have beautiful, exotic names. Malicet et Blin does not even appear in Georgano’s Encyclopedia of Motorcars. That’s how obscure it is.

The company was an old engineering firm out of Paris that made automobile parts, mainly. They built chassis and everything except complete cars – although it would seem at least one escaped from their premises. This car uses an single-cylinder eight horsepower De Dion engine that drives the rear wheels through a Malicet et Blin transmission.

The car was discovered in Belgium in 1966 and it wasn’t pretty. But someone knew they had something rare and a restoration was carried out of the next 23 years. The company only built a handful of cars and only two are known to survive, this being the only conventional motorcar. It’s an amazing opportunity and it can be yours for between $120,000-$140,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $163,366.

1903 Clement

1903 Clement 12/16HP Rear-Entrance Tonneau

Offered by Bonhams | London, U.K. | December 1, 2013

1903 Clement 12-16HP Rear-Entrance Tonneau

Here is yet another vehicle (from yet another marque) that can be traced back to Adolphe Clement-Bayard. If you’re keeping score at home, please let me know how many this makes, because I’ve lost count. That mustachioed Frenchman sure had a knack for starting car companies.

Clement began producing cars in 1899. Between then and 1903, they were sold under the Clement and Clement-Gladiator names. In 1903, they became known as Clement-Bayard. Clement-Talbot and that whole story is separate from these companies (although very closely related).

Anyway, this car was sold new to a Spaniard named Don Francisco Serramalera Abadal. He was a major automotive importer and salesman who sold mainly French cars to wealthy clients. He would produce cars under his own name in the 1910s. He managed to win a hillclimb in this car in 1904 (so it does have “competition history”). The restoration is about 40 years old and the flimsy-looking wooden top is removable to turn this into a nice roadster.

The engine is a 2.1-liter straight-four making 12/16 horsepower. This Clement is from the final year of Clement production (of the four short years they were available). It is very nice, even though the restoration is older, and should bring a still-big price. The estimate is between $480,000-$640,000. Click here for more info and here for the rest of Bonhams’ London auction catalog.

Update: Sold $569,937.

Clement-Talbot

1903 Clement-Talbot Type CT4K 18hp Four-Cylinder Roi-d’Italie Tonneau by Rothschild

Offered by Bonhams | London, U.K. | November 1, 2013

1903 Clement-Talbot Type CT4K 18hp Four-Cylinder Roi-d'Italie Tonneau by Rothschild

This is one of the stars of the show at what has become one of my very favorite auctions of the year. One thing that makes me happy about this car is that it comes from one of the most confusing car company histories ever: the Clement and Talbot mess. I find it fascinating. Continue reading

Lacoste & Battmann

1903 Lacoste et Battmann 12hp Twin-Cylinder Four-Seat Rear-Entrance Tonneau

Offered by Bonhams | London, U.K. | November 1, 2013

1903 Lacoste et Battmann 12hp Twin-Cylinder Four-Seat Rear-Entrance Tonneau

I’ll start by saying that this car is described as “believed 1903 Lacoste et Battmann” – meaning no one’s really sure what this is. It was believed to be a Regal for many years until 2000 when an expert said it might actually be a Lacoste et Battmann. But if it were a Regal, it would still be a Lacoste et Battmann.

Here’s why: Lacoste & Battmann was founded in 1897 by Jacques Lacoste in Paris. But they rarely sold cars under their own name. In fact, they built cars for other companies – as many as seven different marques. Regal was one of those seven companies.

This car was purchased by its second owner at auction in 1908. It was worn out and restored (after only five years!) and put back on the road in 1910. The car has been in the same family since. The second restoration (which was mechanical in nature only) was completed in 2001.

The engine is a 2.4-litre two-cylinder making 12 horsepower. If this truly is a Lacoste et Battmann, it is very rare. Even if it isn’t, it is very likely one of their cars that was marketed under a different name – and the rarity remains. The company closed up shop in 1913. This example – with 1908-era interior and exterior – should sell for between $210,000-$260,000. Click here for more info and here for more from Bonhams.

Update: Sold $123,920.