How Are These Two Cars Different?

1901 Crestmobile Model B 3½HP Runabout

Offered by Bonhams | Los Angeles, California | November 11, 2017

Photo – Bonhams

Founded in 1900 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the Crest Manufacturing Company was a supplier to other early automobile manufacturers. They finally realized that they built so many parts that they could just build their own car – and so they did. The first “Crest”-branded automobiles were three-wheelers but by 1901 the four-wheeled Crestmobile was available.

Three models were offered at the start, with the mid-range Model B sporting a 3.5 horsepower single-cylinder engine mounted out front that can be pull-started with a leather strap. This car resembles many other cars from the period, including the Toledo Steam car below.

Part of this particular collection since 1943, the Crestmobile you see here has been restored (though the date is unknown). Crestmobiles were only offered through 1905 before the marque disappeared. This one, perhaps the finest in existence, should sell for between $30,000-$40,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $39,600.


1902 Toledo Junior Runabout

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

Photo – Bonhams

Okay, so maybe this doesn’t look exactly like the Crestmobile above, but you get the idea that they are pretty similar – except that this is a steam car. The Toledo was built by the International Motor Car Company of Toledo, Ohio, between 1901 and 1903. Beginning in 1904, once the company had been acquired by Col. Albert Pope, the cars were known as the “Pope-Toledo.”

Five different steam cars were offered by Toledo in 1902, with this Junior Runabout being the cheapest, costing $800 when new. This was also the last year the company offered steam cars, turning to more conventionally-styled gasoline-powered cars in 1903 before their acquisition.

This car sports an older restoration and it probably hasn’t been used all that much. It will require a little attention (and a boiler inspection) before use. This is a great opportunity to acquire a well-built early steamer at a fraction of the cost of a Stanley. It should bring between $33,000-$40,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $34,673.

1899 Vivinus

1899 Vivinus 3½HP Two-Seater Voiturette

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

Photo – Bonhams

Alexis Vivinus was a Belgian bicycle maker who began his company in the 1890s. As many others did, he made the transition from bicycles to motorcars. Ateliers Vivinus S.A. sold its first car in 1895 and was out of business in 1912. Mr. Vivinus then went on to work at Minerva.

The first Vivinus cars were Benz’s built under license but the car you see here was one designed in-house. This single-cylinder car makes 3.5 horsepower and was simple and reliable to enough to be licensed by other manufacturers around Europe, including Georges Richard.

The current owner of this car acquired it in 1986 from the same family that bought it new, which is pretty incredible. It was restored when purchased and has been well maintained since. It’s a usable example of a well-built 19th Century car and it should bring between $26,000-$33,000. Click here for more info and here for more from Bonhams.

Update: Sold $76,845.

The Oldest British Car

1894 Santler 3½HP Dogcart

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

Photo – Bonhams

And now on to the most interesting sale of the year, Bonhams’ London-to-Brighton sale. It never disappoints, this year especially. What you’re looking at here is believed to be the oldest surviving car built in Britain. The Santler brothers, Charles and Walter, were building bicycles in the 1880s in Worcestershire. They completed their first vehicle, a steam car, in 1889.

Unfortunately there were some weird laws on the books in 1889 and two-seat self-propelled cars were illegal. So they parked their experimental vehicle and only came back to it a few years later when they took the chassis (this one) and installed a two-cylinder gasoline engine. It was used briefly and wasn’t rescued until the 1930s. A fan of old cars bought it in the 1950s and restored it, using a period-correct 3.5 horsepower single-cylinder Benz engine, which it still carries today.

The Santlers built a few one-off cars up through 1922 which included a brief run of cars they actually offered for sale. This may be the only surviving example from Santler and with its chassis dating to 1889, it’s one of the oldest cars in the world. It has been prepped and is ready to take part in this year’s London-to-Brighton run. As a piece of history, it should bring between $260,000-$330,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Star Benz

1899 Star Benz 3.5HP Vis-a-Vis

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

Photo - Bonhams

Photo – Bonhams

England’s Star Motor Company built its first car in 1898 and it was a German Benz vehicle built under license in Wolverhampton. The company continued to build this model through 1902. This car is one of those.

The engine is a single-cylinder making 3.5 horsepower of Benz’s design. Star was one of England’s largest automobile manufacturers before WWI. A series of ownership changes, coupled with the Great Depression, spelled the end to what could have been one of England’s biggest post-World War II automakers.

This car has known ownership back to 1932 and it was restored in 1954. It has run in over a dozen London-to-Brighton runs – going back to 1938! For the past three decades, this car has been on museum display, so it’ll need a little work to get it roadworthy – but it looks great considering the restoration is over 60 years old. It should sell for between $92,000-$110,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $141,463.

1901 Georges Richard

1901 Georges Richard 3.5hp Single-Cylinder Four-Seat Rear-Entrance Tonneau by Vedrine

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

1901 Georges Richard 3.5hp Single-Cylinder Four-Seat Rear-Entrance Tonneau by Vedrine

Sometimes early cars don’t really have model names – or maybe that have model names that we just don’t know. So instead, we call them by every conceivable descriptive attribute we can see – hence the somewhat ridiculous-in-name name of this car above. And sometimes, there are car companies that sound like a guy’s full name, but aren’t. This time, Georges Richard was an actual person.

Richard worked in a bicycle shop with his brother and by 1897, he and his brother had branched out on their own and began building cars under Georges’ name in a shop north of Paris. In 1901, an engineer named Henri Brasier joined the company and after 1903, the cars were re-branded Richard-Brasier (and just plain old Brasier in 1905 after Richard left the company).

The car you see here was built by Georges Richard in 1901 – during the time when the company was building the Belgian Vivinus car under license (so it is very similar). The engine is a 785cc single-cylinder putting out 3.5 horsepower. It tops out near 25 mph.

This car has been in the same ownership for the last quarter-century, but not much is known of it prior to that. Fun note: this car has a reverse gear that you can’t use because the original owner was too cheap to tick the box for the lever that engages reverse. In any case, this is a neat old car from a short-lived marque that should bring between $89,000-$97,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this awesome sale.

Update: Sold $91,571.