1909 Delaunay-Belleville Type IA6 Victoria by Brewster
Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Amelia Island, Florida | March 8-9, 2019
Delaunay-Belleville built luxury cars in a Parisian suburb beginning 1904 and lasting into the 1920s. They were cars for (and purchased by) kings, and are well-known for their dinstinctive cylindrical engine compartment and round radiator.
It is powered by a 2.6-liter straight-six. Unlike many of their cars, this Delaunay-Belleville was boded in America – New York to be exact, by Brewster. It’s an open Victoria, a body style that is not at all practical nor was it popular by the time WWI ended. The driver is always exposed to the elements, and the rear convertible top only protects the passengers from the sun. When the sun is behind them. I guess it’s great for bald guys who don’t want their head to burn but don’t mind getting rain/bugs/birds in their face.
Only 185 examples of the Type IA6 were built, and this one has been in the same ownership since 1975. The restoration dates to 1983 and appears to have held up well. It’s a great ticket into many great car shows and is being sold at no reserve. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.
Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Phoenix, Arizona | January 18-19, 2018
Photo Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s
Brewster & Company was a company originally based in Connecticut that ended up in New York. They started as a carriage company and then turned to coachbuilding. Unlike most coachbuilders, Brewster also built some cars of their own right after WWI. That endeavor lasted 10 years before they went back to just coachbuilding.
In the 1930s, J.S. Inskip, the sales director at Brewster, purchased 135 bare Ford V-8 chassis and Brewster built custom bodies for the cars and sold them as Brewster-Fords. The cars were popular, but it wasn’t enough to save the business and Brewster was liquidated in 1937.
This car is powered by a 95 horsepower, 3.9-liter V-8. The styling is swoopy, for an American car, and that distinctive Brewster grille also works well for clearing snow off of rail tracks (we’re kidding… sort of). Only nine Convertible Sedans were built and only four are known to exist, with this being the best unrestored example. It should bring between $100,000-$150,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.
Offered by Barrett-Jackson | Las Vegas, Nevada | October 13-15, 2016
Photo – Barrett-Jackson
The first Buick Special was introduced in 1930. For 1936, it was redesigned and gained more of the look of the car you see here – except that this is a very rare, specially-bodied car by Brewster of Long Island. The Special would continue in Buick’s lineup (taking a few years off here and there) until 1969.
The 1938 Series 40 Special is powered by a 107 horsepower 4.1-liter straight-eight. With the Special being a full-size car, it was still Buick’s entry-level model. The cheapest 4-door Series 40 cost $1,022 in 1938 – but you can bet this car cost a lot more.
It’s always interesting to see the chassis people chose to have a coachbuilt body applied to. In this case, it was a popular one and the beautiful end result makes for a very special Special. You can read more about this car here and check out some other no reserve cars from Barrett-Jackson here.
1909 Renault Series B V-1 20/30 Cape Top Victoria by Brewster
Offered by Bonhams | Ebeltoft, Denmark | September 26, 2015
Photo – Bonhams
Louis Renault and his brothers started building cars right before the turn of the century. They built a lot of cars early on, using De Dion engines at the beginning before switching to their own engines in 1903. Shortly after that, their range expanded and they built both small and large cars.
This Series B Type V1 was on the larger side, using a 4.4-liter straight-four making 20/30 horsepower. This large French tourer was actually bodied in America – on Long Island, in fact, by Brewster. The rear passenger compartment is enormous.
This car has known history back to the 1970s when it was an unrestored, low-milage car. It was restored in the late-1990s. It’s a beautiful, rare early Renault. A lot of smaller Renaults exist from this period, but the larger cars are much rarer. This car was undoubtedly owned by someone fairly rich when new and you can now feel just like them. It should sell for between $180,000-$230,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.
1910 Peerless Model 29 Park Phaeton/Victoria by Brewster
Offered by Bonhams | Carmel, California | August 16, 2013
The early years of the automobile industry saw a lot of scrambling among manufacturers to decided who stood where with regards to prestige and customer base. Peerless ended up on top, at least in the prestige category and at least in the early years of the market. They were among the three famed American “P”s – Peerless, Packard and Pierce-Arrow.
And it was cars like this strange coachbuilt luxury convertible that put Peerless at the top. This was not a practical car by any means – it’s obviously to be driven by a chauffeur, and the “convertible top” really doesn’t do you much good if it starts raining (unless you’re driving in reverse).
The Model 29 was introduced halfway through the 1910 model year (and may have only been built through 1911). It features a 6.7-liter straight-four making 25 horsepower. The custom bodywork is by Brewster – who provided many early extravagant coachbuilt bodies for wealthy customers in the New York area. And this car spent some time in the New York City area. It was owned by Doris Duke, a wealthy heiress, and it was apparently in the family of her husband, the Vice President of Peerless – perhaps from new.
The car has known ownership history since and is coming from a European museum collection. Close inspection by experts revealed that this car might be in original condition – possibly being “refurbished as needed” throughout its life – but never outright restored. I’d imagine it’s the only Model 29 in existence with this coachwork – and perhaps the only one like it built. It is expected to sell for between $300,000-$350,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this awesome Bonhams sale.
Update: Sold $176,000.
Update II: Sold for $231,000 at Bonhams Simeone Foundation sale.
Rolls-Royce of Derby, England, set up a manufacturing arm in America which was referred to, surprisingly, as Rolls-Royce of America. They opened shop in 1921, constructing the already-old Silver Ghost. In 1925, Rolls introduced the follow-up model to the Silver Ghost – the Phantom. In 1929, the Phantom II was introduced and the Phantom’s name was changed to “Phantom I” and it stayed in production through 1931.
The car you see here was built by Rolls-Royce of America and they are often referred to as a “Springfield” (which refers to Springfield, Massachusetts – where the cars were built). As it is a Phantom I, it uses a 7.7-liter straight-six that made about 120 horsepower.
What is great about this car is the bodywork. As far as early Rolls’ go this is one of my favorite designs. The body is by Brewster – the Long Island coachbuilder contracted by RR of America to build many of their bodies. It is called an “Ascot Phaeton” to give the buyer an aura of Britishness. It’s a five-seater with sporty looks and I like it.
The car has known ownership history from new. It was restored first in 1970 in New Jersey and is being sold by a European collector who had more work done recently. The car comes without an estimate but is being sold at no reserve. It is one of 28 Springfield Ascot Phaetons built on the Phantom I chassis. RR of America built 1,240 Phantom Is total (of 3,512 built worldwide). I estimate this car at about $300,000. Click here for more info and here for the rest of Coys’ Greek lineup.
1915 Crane-Simplex Model 5 Sport Berline by Brewster
Offered by Bonhams | Greenwich, Connecticut | June 3, 2012
Tell me that isn’t a beautiful car. Quite a number of cars of this vintage have upright grilles that lead the cowl straight back to the firewall and passenger compartment. It’s like somebody fitted two rectangles together and called it a day. But look at the flow of the front of this car – how the cowl sweeps right into the windshield. It’s one of my favorite early automotive design touches. The roof rack completes the picture of this car, full of a wealthy family, their belongings strapped to the roof, travelling on to some Gilded Age vacation home on the New England coast.
Crane-Simplex is one of those marques that went through quite a few different names and owners over the years. A brief history: The Smith & Mabley Manufacturing Company began building the S&M Simplex in 1904. Two years later the company was broke and it was absorbed by the Simplex Automobile Company, the badging was shortened to “Simplex.” In 1915, the Crane Motor Car Company purchased Simplex and Crane-Simplex was born. In 1920, Mercer (and the ill-fated Hare’s Motors corporation) acquired Crane-Simplex for two years before Henry Crane (who founded the Crane Motor Car Company) bought it back after Hare’s Motors went bust. He tried to revive the company but it was gone from the marketplace by 1924.
The car featured here has a six-cylinder engine displacing 9.24-liters and it is from the first year of production. The body is by Brewster and, because the engine puts out significant power, it’s big. Crane-Simplex cars were for the very wealthy – John D. Rockefeller had one. They were well built and expensive. The one seen here sold for $13,800 in 1915. Only 121 Crane-Simplex cars were made in total.
The car is presented as “original” while having been “worked over” (which I take to mean “restored as needed”) so it can be driven long distances. Original or not, this would be one hell of a car to drive on a classic car tour. It’s one of the most exclusive pre-war American automobiles. It is exceptional.
The pre-sale estimate is $100,000-$140,000, and after looking at it, this sounds remarkably fair. To read the complete lot description, click here. And for more from Bonhams in Connecticut, click here.
Offered by RM Auctions | Phoenix, Arizona | January 19, 2012
Photo – RM Auctions
Here’s something you don’t see everyday. Brewster & Co. were a famous coachbuilding company based in New York as well as the American importers of French Delaunay-Belleville cars (rare enough in their own right). They were also the largest coachbuilder for Springfield, Massachusetts-based Rolls-Royce of America (and British Rolls-Royce once their American arm shut down in 1931).
During the First World War, Delaunay-Bellevilles were hard to come by and Brewster turned to building their own cars. This 1915 Model 41 was from the first year of manufacture and it featured the sleeve-valve Knight engine – as did so many other [Company Name Here]-Knight branded automobiles. The 40 horsepower four-cylinder engine was quiet – and expensive. Perhaps too expensive as Brewster-Knight built roughly 500 cars before Rolls-Royce of America acquired the company in 1925.
The pre-sale estimate on this car is $60,000-$80,000. I’ve seen some Brewster-bodied cars (notably those Brewster-Fords with that curvy, pointed grille) sell here and there but I don’t recall a Brewster-Knight.
The auction catalog says this car was probably built in 1916, even though it is title differently. Read for yourself here and find out more about the auction here.