Two Old Cars from Bonhams

1921 Wasp Model 211 Rickshaw Victoria

Offered by Bonhams | Tupelo, Mississippi | April 27, 2019

Photo – Bonhams

Karl Martin was at first an oil man, then a coachbuilder, and then, in 1919 when he ended up in Bennington, Vermont, an automobile manufacturer. The Martin Wasp Corporation built cars from 1920 through 1924. Not very long. The catalog has this listed as a “Martin Wasp” but the cars were sold under the “Wasp” name.

They were powered by relatively ordinary 72 horsepower, 5.8-liter Wisconsin inline-fours (and later sixes), but the styling was quite unique. These were long, low cars that wore touring coachwork Martin described as “rickshaw phaetons.” Douglas Fairbanks bought one as a gift for his wife, Mary Pickford.

The cars were very expensive – this one would’ve cost $5,000 when new. Only 14 four-cylinder – and three six-cylinder – cars were built. The one you see here was actually assembled in the 1940s from leftover unused new parts that Martin retained after the factory had closed. Still, with only two other “real” Wasps in existence, it is pretty special. It should bring between $30,000-$50,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $51,520.


1931 Detroit Electric Model 99 Coupe

Offered by Bonhams | Tupelo, Mississippi | April 27, 2019

Photo – Bonhams

Electric cars have always had this weird “science fair project” look about them. Even from the beginning. Part of it is because of packaging – they have different things they have to carry, necessitating different designs. Part of it is function – modern cars are trying to show they are eco-friendly with weird hubcaps, etc.

But this looks like a Ford Model A coupe. Or, as it was bodied by Fisher, a period Chevrolet. You would have no idea it was powered by a 15 horsepower DC electric motor if it didn’t say “electric” in the name.

It was part of the Harrah collection for many years and remains in original condition. The company only built 131 cars in 1931, and this is the only survivor. It may be the “newest” Detroit Electric in existence, as production petered out pretty dramatically after 1932. It should bring between $30,000-$60,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $67,200.

1920 Detroit Electric

1920 Detroit Electric Model 82 Brougham

Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Plymouth, Michigan | July 30, 2016

Photo Courtesy of RM Sotheby's

Photo Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

Some things come back around and right now, thanks to Tesla, electric cars are hot. But back in the early days of the automobile, when different propulsion systems were fighting for supremacy, electric cars were fairly popular as well.

Part of the reason for their popularity was the ease with which one could operate such a car. There was no crank, no warming up. You just got in and went. This car is powered by a 4.3 horsepower electric motor.

Only 95 of this type were made, making it quite rare today. Remarkably, this example has known ownership history from new and was originally purchased in Canada. Today, it should bring between $60,000-$80,000. Click here for more info and here for more from RM Sotheby’s.

Update: Sold $66,000.

Detroit Electric

1919 Detroit Electric Model 75-A Four-Passenger Brougham

Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Hershey, Pennsylvania | October 9, 2015

Photo - RM Sotheby's

Photo – RM Sotheby’s

Detroit Electric is one of the most famous names in electric automobiles. They built cars for a while, too, beginning in 1907 and lasting through the mid-to-late-30s. Later models are rarer than these post-WWI, upright, boxy cars. The company offered quite a large range of cars during this period – 1919 alone had six different model/body style combinations.

This car is powered by a 4.3 horsepower electric motor. It is mostly original but has been repainted. It’s an timeless design. This is the type of car you can use or restore and not feel bad about either choice. It should sell for between $40,000-$50,000. Click here for more info.

Update: Sold $30,250.

5 Great Classics

1919 Detroit Electric Model 75-A Four-Passenger Brougham

Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Hershey, Pennsylvania | October 9, 2015

Photo - RM Sotheby's

Photo – RM Sotheby’s

Detroit Electric is one of the most famous names in electric automobiles. They built cars for a while, too, beginning in 1907 and lasting through the mid-to-late-30s. Later models are rarer than these post-WWI, upright, boxy cars. The company offered quite a large range of cars during this period – 1919 alone had six different model/body style combinations.

This car is powered by a 4.3 horsepower electric motor. It is mostly original but has been repainted. It’s an timeless design. This is the type of car you can use or restore and not feel bad about either choice. It should sell for between $40,000-$50,000. Click here for more info.

Update: Sold $30,250.


1915 Cretors Model C Popcorn Wagon

Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Hershey, Pennsylvania | October 9, 2015

Photo - RM Sotheby's

Photo – RM Sotheby’s

Charles Cretors invented the popcorn machine. His shop sold roasted peanuts but he wasn’t satisfied with the machine he had, so he built his own. His company started building horse-drawn popcorn wagons and for a brief time, actually offered motorized popcorn wagon trucks.

This truck features a Cretors chassis and a 4.0-liter Buda straight-four making 22.5 horsepower. The Harrah Collection acquired this example in 1963 and restored it to working perfection. It’s the ultimate toy/promotional vehicle/historical artifact. Only eight or nine of these were built and less than five survive. It’s really cool and will cost its new owner between $250,000-$325,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $231,000.


1916 Winton Six-33 Seven-Passenger Touring

Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Hershey, Pennsylvania | October 9, 2015

Photo - RM Sotheby's

Photo – RM Sotheby’s

Alexander Winton should be one of everyone’s automotive heroes – he’s definitely one of ours. Winton cars were always reliable, attractive, and well-built. The cars deserved to be around a lot longer than 1924, but the marque lived on in one form or another as a producer of engines until the 1960s.

The six-cylinder Winton Model 33 was built between 1916 and 1919. It uses a 5.7-liter straight-six making almost 34 horsepower. Body style could be had just about any way you wanted it and this seven-passenger touring was the largest of the four touring styles offered. It’s great and should bring between $75,000-$100,000. Click here for more info.

Update: Sold $74,250.


1909 Petrel 30HP Roadster

Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Hershey, Pennsylvania | October 9, 2015

Photo - RM Sotheby's

Photo – RM Sotheby’s

Petrel was a very short-lived automobile make from Wisconsin. Initial production in 1909 took place in Kenosha but by later that year they had relocated to Milwaukee, where they stayed until the plant closed in 1912. A six-cylinder car was offered in 1909 alongside the four, but the smaller cars were the sweet spot for the company.

This 30 horsepower straight-four is of 4.7-liters in displacement. It resembles a lot of other, early roadsters but that vibrant purple really sets it apart. And yes, that is the original color, although it was exquisitely restored 50 years ago. Less than 1,000 Petrels were built and it is thought that this is the only survivor. It should bring between $100,000-$150,000. Click here for more info.

Update: Not sold.


1914 Rolls-Royce 40/50HP Silver Ghost Landaulette by Barker

Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Hershey, Pennsylvania | October 8, 2015

Photo - RM Sotheby's

Photo – RM Sotheby’s

This is a huge car. And it’s gorgeous, too. The Landaulette body by Barker offers a downright cavernous passenger compartment fitted with all the luxuries available to the British motoring public on the dawn of WWI. The engine, chassis, and coachwork are all the matching originals. The car was restored between 2004 and 2005.

The 40/50HP Silver Ghost still stands as one of Rolls-Royce’s finest achievements. The engine is a 7.4-liter straight-six. While maybe not a fun driver’s car, it seems more fitting as one to be chauffeured around in. It has known ownership history since new and should bring between $500,000-$700,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $577,500.

RM St. John’s Highlights 2012

RM’s sale in St. John’s, Michigan (okay, it was actually held in Plymouth) had a bunch of really old, really cool cars. The top sale was the SJ Duesenberg we featured for $957,000. One of the stars of the show was this 1928 Cadillac Series 341-A V8 Town Sedan that was once owned by Al Capone. It is bulletproof – literally, which is way cool. It sold for $341,000.

1928 Cadillac Series 341-A V-8 "Al Capone" Town Sedan

Other interesting sales included this 1907 Locomobile Model E Roadster for $74,250.

1907 Locomobile Model E Roadster

A couple of other pre-WWI American automobiles included a 1911 Overland Model 46 Torpedo Roadster (top) for $35,200 and a 1912 Chalmers Model 9 Torpedo Roadster (bottom) for $57,750. Also, our featured 1909 Washington sold for $71,500.

1911 Overland Model 46 Torpedo Roadster

1912 Chalmers Model 9 Torpedo Roadster

One car I really liked was this 1924 Moon Series A Five-Passenger Touring. There’s something about solid, painted wheel rims on 1920s-era cars that I’m really drawn too. I think it’s because it looks more period-correct than any other type of wheel – wooden spokes included. This one sold for $26,400.

1924 Moon Series A Five-Passenger Touring

A few months ago we featured a 1907 Dolson Model F, which was for sale at a dealership in St. Louis for $110,000. Well, it sold at this auction for $74,250. Sometimes it pays to wait. Another car we featured, specifically for this auction, was a 1914 Detroit Electric Model 46 Cape Top Roadster. It sold for $99,000. There were a number of other “alternatively powered” vehicles at this sale. Another Detroit Electric was this 1918 Model 75 Brougham that brought $44,000.

1918 Detroit Electric Model 75B Brougham

The other electric cars were a 1912 Baker Model V Special Extension Coupe (top, $148,500) and a 1922 Milburn Electric Model 27L Light Brougham (bottom, $56,100).

1912 Baker Model V Special Extension Coupe

1922 Milburn Electric Model 27L Light Brougham

A different type of propulsion popular in the early days of motoring was steam, and it was represented at this sale as well, by this 1911 Stanley Model 63 Toy Tonneau which sold for $165,000.

1911 Stanley Model 63 Toy Tonneau

And finally, the “Rolls-Royce of fire engines,” Ahrens-Fox. They are very rare and there were two of these at this sale, the top selling one went for $198,000. It was this 1925 N-S-4 Triple Combination Pumper.

1925 Ahrens-Fox N-S-4 Triple Combination Pumper

For complete results, click here.

Detroit Electric Roadster

1914 Detroit Electric Model 46 Cape Top Roadster

Offered by RM Auctions | Plymouth, Michigan | July 28, 2012

Detroit Electric cars were built (in Detroit, obviously) from 1907 until 1938. There are quite a few of them still around and most of the ones that you see are stodgy, upright “coupes” that look more like an awkwardly tall box on wheels. The Type 46 was available as a roadster and it is far more sporty looking – and rare – than just about anything else built by the company.

The 48-volt DC motor makes only 4.3 horsepower, so its sporty looks are somewhat deceiving. What isn’t deceiving is the chain of ownership of this car. It was sold in Pasadena when new – for $2,400. Years later it became part of the Harrah Collection. After that it was acquired by the Imperial Palace Collection and now is being sold from the collection of John O’Quinn. Some big names owned this car.

This is thought to be one of three Model 46 Roadsters in existence. One still resides in the Harrah Collection and the other remains part of the Rockefeller family, where it has been since new. This makes this the only available Model 46 Roadster you will find. It is estimated to sell for between $75,000-$125,000. For more information, click here. And for the rest of the RM lineup at St. John’s, click here.

Update: Sold $99,000.