1904 Wolseley

1904 Wolseley 6HP Two-Seater Voiturette

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

Photo – Bonhams

Did you know the Wolseley name is owned by the Chinese auto conglomerate SAIC? It’s dormant currently, but the name can be traced back to 1901 when Herbert Austin teamed up with Vickers to build cars. Austin was the head of the Wolseley Sheep Shearing Machine Company, thus the name. He would leave Wolseley in 1905 to go found Austin.

Their 6HP model went on sale in 1904. It’s powered by, well, a six horsepower single-cylinder engine mounted up front. Outward appearances suggest that the engine is 100% radiator. We like that single, centered headlight, though.

It’s a tiny 2-seater with a big, upright windscreen that doesn’t appear tall enough to protect the occupants’ faces. That or the steering wheel is just monumentally high. This car has mostly known ownership history, and Bonhams notes that this car should bring between $98,000-$100,000, which is a bizarrely tight range. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $89,652.

Twin-Cylinder Star

1904 Star 7HP Twin-Cylinder Two-Seater

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

Photo – Bonhams

Star, like many early motor manufacturers, got their start as a cycle company. Edward Lisle’s company produced its first car in 1898, and by the time WWI broke out, the company was one of Britain’s largest automobile companies.

Introduced in 1900, the twin-cylinder Star was one of a few models the company was producing that were based on the pioneering designs of Panhard and Mercedes. It’s powered by a 1.4-liter straight-twin producing seven horsepower.

This car cost £320 when new and should bring between $110,000-$130,000 early next month. It has participated in the London-to-Brighton run multiple times and can be your ticket into that event too. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $113,559.

Ford Model C

1904 Ford Model C Tonneau

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

Photo – Bonhams

This is the final missing piece as far as pre-Model T Fords go. We’ve featured every other model, beginning with the Model A and Model AC, the Model B, Model F, Model K, Model N, Model R, and Model S. This is a fine example of the 1904 and 1905-only Model C.

The Model C uses the same engine as did the AC: a 10 horsepower, 2.0-liter flat-twin. Though 1904 was only the second year for Ford production, the Model C was a leap forward from the Model A. Mechanically similar to the AC, it is a more “modern-looking”  car (you know, for 1904) with a more conventional layout. Though it was sold side-by-side with the Model F in 1905, the F would ultimately replace the C in 1906.

This was a $950 car when new and only 870 examples were built between the two model years. It is thought that only about 20 remain. This particular example was built in Canada. It should sell for between $41,000-$53,000. Click here for more info and here for more from Bonhams.

Update: Sold $104,482.

1904 Ford Model B

1904 Ford Model B Touring

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

Photo – Bonhams

The first Fords, namely the Model A, were transportation. This was Ford’s way of getting into the market. After selling a few hundred, he was able to expand his focus. Naturally, the next car he would build would be the Model B and it was a much different car than the A (and AC) before it.

The Model B was Ford’s first front-engined car. And it was kind of luxurious, featuring brass trim with some polished wood throughout. Not just simple transportation. It was a relatively big car, too. Priced at $2,000 in 1904, the Model B was more than double the price of any other car in Ford’s line. It’s powered by a 4.6-liter straight-four making 24 horsepower. This made it Ford’s first four-cylinder car as well.

This car is coming out of a museum and sports white tires, something we love. The Model B was available in 1904 and 1905 before being supplanted by the even more luxurious Model K. Ford would produce another car called the Model B in the 1930s, but this one is much, much rarer. It should bring between $64,000-$82,000 at auction. Click here for more info and here for more from Bonhams.

Update: Sold $488,924.

The Dragonfly

1904 La Libellule V-Twin Tricar

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

Photo – Bonhams

Every year at this sale it seems like Bonhams manages to consign at least one car from a marque that has such an obscure history that no one really knows anything about it.

Enter La Libellule, or The Dragonfly. These early three-wheeled forecars were available from a number of manufacturers. It was essentially a motorcycle with two wheels at the front that support a wicker basket that you could plop an easily-influenced friend (or enemy) into. It’s like having a sidecar, but in front of you.

Not much is known about this company other than no records of it really exist prior to 1906, which is why this is listed as a “circa 1904” in the catalog. It’s had three owners since 1921 and has been in the same collection since about 1960. The restoration dates to the 1980s, when it first competed in the London-to-Brighton run. It should bring between $27,000-$33,000 today. Click here for more info and here for more from this amazing sale.

Update: Sold $42,211.

1904 Stanley

1904 Stanley Model C Runabout

Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Hershey, Pennsylvania | October 6, 2017

Photo Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

The Stanley brothers founded their first car company in 1897 but ended up selling the rights to that design to someone else. In 1902 they were back with a new, more modern-looking design. This 1904 Model C is a pretty early Stanley, but it’s not the earliest we’ve featured here on this site.

The Model C was offered in 1903 and 1904. It features a 6.5 horsepower twin-cylinder steam engine. It was the only 1903 model listed, but was the baby Stanley for 1904 (as there were two more powerful cars offered). The Model C cost $695 in 1904.

This particular car is fairly original. It has been repainted and a new boiler was installed within the last five years. It’s been sitting idle for almost that entire time, but with little effort it should be made roadworthy by its new owner. This car is expected to bring between $45,000-$65,000. Click here for more info and here for the rest of RM’s Hershey lineup.

Update: Sold $55,000.

Premier Tonneau

1904 Premier Model F 16HP Rear-Entrance Tonneau

Offered by Bonhams | Carmel, California | August 18, 2017

Photo – Bonhams

George B. Weidely sold his first car in 1902 and his Premier Motor Manufacturing Company continued to build four, and primarily six, cylinder cars through 1925. Based in Indianapolis, the brand was at the heart of one of America’s major early automobile manufacturing cities.

The 1904 Premier range was the first year they offered multiple models. This, the Model F, was the mid-range model and the top trim four-cylinder car the firm sold, priced at $1,400 when new. It’s powered by a 16 horsepower four-cylinder engine. The only body style offered was the Rear-Entrance Tonneau you see here.

This particular example was restored in 1999 and is finished in Brewster Green and Canary (yellow). Only two 1904 Premiers have survived, the other being the more-expensive-when-new Two-Cylinder model that is in possession of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum. Even though this is an American automobile, it is London-to-Brighton eligible and should sell for between $175,000-$250,000. Click here for more info and here for more from Bonhams.

Update: Sold $341,000.

Knox Surrey

1904 Knox Two-Cylinder 16/18HP Tudor Surrey

Offered by Bonhams | Amelia Island, Florida | March 9, 2017

Photo – Bonhams

It’s strange, but this is the first Knox automobile we’ve featured on the site. It’s weird because Knox automobiles aren’t that rare and it seems that at least one of them changes hands publicly each year. Harry Knox got into the automobile business because he was encouraged to do so by his neighbor. Usually this isn’t a great reason for starting a business, but in this case, Springfield, Massachusetts-based Knox was neighbors with a guy named J. Frank Duryea, one of the brothers behind one of America’s pioneering car companies.

Knox built passenger cars between 1900 and 1914 (and they continued building trucks and tractors through 1924). 1904 was the first year for the two-cylinder Knox, and this car is powered by a 4.5-liter twin making 16 horsepower.

The ownership history on this car is known since new. In the 1940s the car was rescued, as it had been converted as the power source for farm equipment. It passed around through a few collections and museums in the ensuing decades, with the most recent restoration work having been completed in 2012. It is London-to-Brighton eligible and completed the run in 2016.

Four body styles were offered on the 1904 Two-Cylinder Knox and this one features a soft-top Tudor Surrey. It is estimated to bring between $200,000-$225,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $292,600.

1904 Renault

1904 Renault Type N-B 14/20HP Four-Cylinder Swing-Seat Tonneau

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

Photo - Bonhams

Photo – Bonhams

Every year there are a number of pre-1910 Renaults that come up for sale. Bonhams almost always has at least one at their London-to-Brighton sale and we never get to feature them. That changes this year, as Bonhams has multiple Renaults and we’ve selected this one – the earliest Renault we’ve yet featured.

The first of Louis Renault’s cars were single-cylinder De Dion-powered. Four-cylinders came in 1904 – this one is 3.0-liters in capacity and makes 14/20 horsepower. The body on this car looks remarkably like the Aster that is also offered at this sale.

The history of this car is that one family owned it from the 1920s through the 1980s when it was bought by the present owner, who restored it completely. It’s been upgraded slightly to run more reliably and has nice weather protection for a car its age. This, one of the first four-cylinder Renaults, should bring between $310,000-$340,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $340,429.

A French Aster

1904 Aster 16/20HP Four-Cylinder Four-Seat Rear-Entrance Tonneau

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

Photo - Bonhams

Photo – Bonhams

Aster was a French marque that built motorized vehicles between 1900 and 1910. They were also a major engine manufacturer – at one point they claimed to be the provider of engines for over 130 other companies. They should not be confused with the British Aster marque of the 1920s (though the British company started out building engines under license from this one).

This car is powered by a 2.7-liter straight-four making 16/20 horsepower. It’s well-appointed and Bonhams makes the case that it’s about as perfect a car for entrance in the London-to-Brighton run as you can get. The body that is on this car is not original to the chassis, but is period correct and was applied during a restoration.

What you see here is a runner – this is a veteran car that you can drive considerable distance with a fair amount of confidence, because, as the lot description says, it is a practical old car. Or as practical as a 112 year old car can be. It should sell for between $290,000-$340,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $263,484.