1914 American Underslung Model 644 Four-Passenger Touring
Offered by Bonhams | Carmel, California | August 16, 2013
American Underslungs are, I think, some of the prettiest pre-WWI American cars built. They are very distinctive with their low-slung chassis (hence the name) and those big, almost over-sized, white tires. Not to mention the gigantic emblem on the grille and the way the front fenders curve at sharp angles and fall dramatically back toward the passengers.
Even though this is a moderately big car, it still seems sporty. Strangely, it only accommodates four passengers, despite being a longish-wheelbase touring car. The low center of gravity (the frame is below the axles) provided for awesome handling, yet the bottom of the car was still high enough to scrape atop ruts ground into early, dirt roads. It might not look sporty, but many regard this as “Sports Car Genesis.”
The American Motor Car Company of Indianapolis built more traditional, upright touring cars when they were founded in 1906 (we featured one of them here). Underslungs came a year later. This particular car is from 1914, the last year the company was in business. It was part of the Harrah Collection for a long time before going to Europe in the 1980s. In about 2005, it was acquired by the current owner. The body was restored under Harrah’s ownership, but the interior is all-original, which is incredible. The engine is a 7.4-liter T-head six-cylinder making 60 horsepower.
These cars are very rare – most are in museums, so getting the chance to buy one almost never happens. It sucks I don’t have the money. Only three four-passenger Underslungs are known to still exist. This one should sell for between $550,000-$700,000. Click here for more info and here for more from Bonhams in Carmel, California.
Offered by RM Auctions | Hershey, Pennsylvania | October 11-12, 2012
This car, offered from the endless estate of John O’Quinn, was built by the American Motor Car Company of Indianapolis, Indiana. That company is more famously known as “American Underslung” – the name by which their vehicles were badged beginning in 1907, when they introduced their revolutionary (and awesome looking) “underslung” chassis (where the frame is low and between the axles).
But in 1906, their first year for production, the cars were more traditional in design. In fact, the chassis here was designed by non other than Harry C. Stutz – prior to him making it big on his own. The engine is a 35/40 horsepower 5.5-liter L-head straight-four with a three-speed manual transmission sending power through the rear wheels.
The name of the car is simply “American” with “Tourist” being the model designation. I don’t know if I need to explain that, but I’m used to car companies where the word “American” is directly followed by something like “Austin” or “Bantam” or “Underslung” and my mind wants to refer to this as an “American Tourist” – but I guess if that were true it would have to be wearing shorts and gym shoes and shouting loudly in slow, plain English (what a European once told me “gives you away as an American”).
In any case, this car was restored in the 1960s but has been preserved in a museum-quality state ever since. It is expected to sell for between $175,000-$250,000. For more information, click here. And for more from RM at Hershey, click here.
To be offered by Bonhams’ at their “Classic California” sale on November 12, 2011
We said we would bring you the interesting and unusual. This definitely qualifies as the latter. High-Wheelers were a style of early automobile where the wheels were, well, high – providing significant ground clearance for the unpaved roads of rural, turn-of-the-century America. They eventually fell out of favor in the teens as America’s infrastructure improved and pneumatic tires became the norm. Imagine the “comfort” offered by solid-state wooden wagon wheels on hard pavement – or any other surface for that matter.
The Holsman Automobile Company was founded in 1903 in Chicago, Illinois and built a variety of cars using a variety of engines ranging from this single-cylinder model up to 26 horsepower 4-cylinders. Early models utilized rope drive but the company switched to steel cables and finally chains. This model sports rope drive to the rear wheels. This car is currently not running but was parked in running condition (a long time ago).
Gooding & Company sold a Holsman, a 1908 Model 10-K. This is a G model and it’s current condition means it will probably come in below Gooding’s result of about $45,000 in 2010. For more information on the car, check the details on the Bonhams website here and for the entire auction catalog, click here.