Two Almost-Cars

1901 Royal Enfield 4½HP Forecar Quadricycle

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

Photo – Bonhams

Royal Enfield was, primarily, a motorcycle manufacturer that was born out of a company that made bicycles. The company lasted until about 1970, though new bikes from the marque can still be acquired as the Indian arm of the company has remained active since 1949.

What we have here is a “Forecar” – meaning that the vehicle’s passenger doubles as the front bumper and crumple zone. The quadricycle portion essentially means that they strapped two motorcycles together (sort of). Enfield’s first true vehicles were in fact quadricycles and tricycles. Motorcycles didn’t technically enter the picture until 1900, so this design actually predates Royal Enfield motorcycles. This one is powered by a single-cylinder De Dion-Bouton engine.

Having resided in an Italian museum for many decades, the current owner bought this in 2007. The restoration dates to the 1950s so it definitely needs a little attention before use. It should bring between $33,000-$40,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $66,332.


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.

Clement-Panhard

1900 Clement-Panhard 4½HP Type VCP Voiture Légère Vis-a-Vis

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

Photo – Bonhams

There have been so many great pre-1905 cars for sale lately! This car is from the mini-empire of marques featuring Adolphe Clément’s name. Clement was on the board at Panhard et Levassor and when the company’s factory was found to not be adequate enough to build a run of a 4.5hp “dog carts” that were designed by Arthur Krebs, Clement set up his own concern to build them.

Clement-Panhards were available between 1898 and about 1900. They featured a rear-mounted single-cylinder engine that made 4.5 horsepower and drove the rear wheels through an exposed-gear transmission. The three headlights and center-pivot steering give it an unusual face that only its mother could love.

In the U.K., these were called Clement-Stirlings or Stirling-Panhards. Only about 500 were built and body styles differed wildly from chassis to chassis. This car has two bench seats that face each other, which was a weird fad among early cars. This one hasn’t been used in a while but it was well kept for the last many decades. It should sell for between $40,000-$50,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $60,500.

Phoenix Tricar

1904 Phoenix 4.5HP Tricar

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

Photo - Bonhams

Photo – Bonhams

Remember when cars were simple and passengers rode in wicker baskets in front of you, acting as both windscreen and front bumper? Well, yeah, it was a little before my time, too, but isn’t it interesting? Luckily it has three wheels, so you can register it as a motorcycle and you won’t have to worry about any of those pesky crash test standards.

The Phoenix Motor Company was founded by J. Van Hooydonk in London in 1903. They built bicycles, motorcycles and even a few more standardized motor cars through 1925. This tricar is powered by a 477cc twin making 4.5 horsepower.

Ownership history goes back a decade or two and it’s eligible for nearly all early car events and runs. It stands as an interesting insight into what once was thought as practical transport. It can be yours for between $24,000-$32,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $36,729.