60HP Mercedes-Simplex

1903 Mercedes-Simplex 60HP Roi-des-Belges by J. Rothschild

Offered by Gooding & Company | Amelia Island, Florida | February/March 2024

Photo – Gooding & Company

The holy trio of Gottlieb Daimler, Wilhelm Maybach, and Emil Jellinek were responsible for the Mercedes-Simplex, which was the first in a long line of top-tier grand Mercedes road cars. Think of this as the predecessor to the current Mercedes-Maybach sedans.

The car came about because Jellinek, who was Daimler’s Nice-based sales guy, needed a better car than the earlier Daimlers to sell to his rich clients. The new cars were named for Jellinek’s daughter, Mercedes. The first Mercedes was the 35HP model of 1901. It was followed by 1902’s 40HP. The 60HP, which was developed through ’02 and ’03, was even… more.

These were performance cars in their day, used at time trials and other competition events. Even this car was run at the 1903 Nice Speed Trials (setting the fastest time) and an Irish hillclimb later that year (also winning). The car is powered by a 9.2-liter inline-four that was rated at 60 horsepower and a downright low 1,100 rpm. It has a four-speed manual gearbox, and the entire design was meant to be easy to use. Hence the Simplex name.

These were capable of 80 mph and were long and low. Just 102 examples of the 60HP were built between 1902 and 1905. Only five are known to exist. This J. Rothschild et Fils-bodied car was purchased new by publisher Alfred Harmsworth, he of The Daily Mail and The Daily Mirror. It was the 740th car registered in London.

The car was inherited by Harmsworth’s son around 1922 and, in the 1950s, was restored and put on display in the Beaulieu Motor Museum, where it stayed from 1956 through 2023. It has remained with two other members of the Harmsworth family since. That is 121 years of single-family ownership. Gooding has an estimate of “in excess of $10,000,000” on this, the ultimate veteran era car. More can be read here.


1913 Sizaire-Berwick 60HP Limousine by Labourdette

Offered by Aguttes | Neuilly, France | June 20, 2021

Photo – Aguttes

Sizaire-Berwick was founded in Paris but was financed in England. The chassis and engines were manufactured in the Courbevoie factory, and they were bodied in England, where most of the cars were to be sold. Maurice and Georges Sizaire had previously founded Sizaire-Naudin, and they teamed up with Frederick Berwick (the British importer of Corre La Licorne) in 1913 (the year after they left Sizaire-Naudin).

The company managed to churn out 139 examples before WWI started. They were powered by a Maurice Sizaire-designed 4.1-liter inline-four that made 60 horsepower when new. Those 139 chassis built before the war? Well most ended up bodied for the British military as armored cars.

This one, by some miracle, ended up bodied by Labourdette. It’s never been restored and has spent time on museum duty after staying disassembled with its first owner (at a castle, naturally) until 1968. It’s kind of unusual for its time in that it has an electric starter and completely closed bodywork.

After WWI, there ended up being British and French-built Sizaire-Berwick cars. Things got confusing and messy, and the marque disappeared after 1927. This car is expected to sell for between $100,000-$145,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Not sold.

1907 Stearns Touring

1907 Stearns 60HP Seven-Passenger Touring

Offered by Bonhams | Philadelphia, Pennsylvania | October 5, 2015

Photo - Bonhams

Photo – Bonhams

We will be featuring a Stearns-Knight in a few days. Stearns-Knight is the company that Stearns became in 1912. Stearns started building cars back in 1901 when company founder Frank Stearns wanted to build the best cars in the world. He did it: Stearns cars were big from the get-go and this car is no exception.

This 1907 Stearns is powered by a 8.7-liter straight-six making 60 horsepower. It’s a big car – really big – but it’s perfectly proportioned. It was restored a while ago but looks great. It’s an ex-Harrah car and should sell for between $650,000-$850,000. Click here for more info.

Update: Not sold.

1905 Fiat Touring Car

1905 Fiat 60HP Five-Passenger Touring by Quinby & Co.

Offered by RM Auctions | Lake Como, Italy | May 25, 2013

1905 Fiat 60HP Five-Passenger Touring by Quinby & Co.

This car is massive in so many ways. One: it’s huge. Two: 60 horsepower in 1905 was a ton (or more specifically, add the expletive of your choice as a prefix to the word “ton”). The engine was massive. And the price? When new, in 1905, this thing – a rolling chassis only (without bodywork) – cost $13,500. Holy crap!

I guess it’s no surprise who owned these things then. Kaiser Wilhelm II bought two of them. This one was bought new by August Anheuser-Busch Sr. This is the short-chassis version. The engine is a whopping 10.6-liter straight-four (two pairs of two) making, well, 60 horsepower. It idles at 70 rpm! You can count each turn of the engine.

The car was delivered to the sole FIAT importer – in New York City – and then it was shipped to Newark, New Jersey, where J.M. Quinby & Co. applied this five-passenger touring body to it. It’s aluminium over wood with brass fittings. The price for the body? $4,000. Busch kept it for 30 years until his death and then the car started passing through hands of collectors, being acquired in 1973 by Louis Biondi of Connecticut who owned it until he passed away in 2012. The current owner had the car returned to running order. Other than that, it is entirely original.

Early, big horsepower cars like this are almost impossible to come by. This is the only example like this in existence (of about 20 produced, according to the lot description, which is possibly referring to the first generation of this model line – 1904/1905). The 60HP model was produced until 1909 and there were probably more made – as in an additional 66 over the final four years.

At any rate, this car is unbelievable. It is almost 110 years old and is entirely original and it runs and looks fantastic. Not to mention it is one of the most desirable early cars – restored or not. A huge opportunity. The price? No idea, as it is “estimate upon request.” Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Not sold.

Update: Sold, RM Auctions, Hershey 2014: $825,000.