Carter Electric Motorette

1904 Carter Electric Motorette

Offered by Worldwide Auctioneers | Auburn, Indiana | August 31, 2019

Photo – Worldwide Auctioneers

This is a pretty tiny vehicle. Although Worldwide Auctioneers doesn’t provide anything in the background of these photos to help with scale, I would imagine it’s about wide enough to seat a person and a half. In England, these were known as “invalid cars” – basically street-legal motorized wheelchairs.

But… it has a US license plate and is street legal here, too. It was built in England by a company I have no further information about. Its first owner purchased it there and later imported it into Vermont, where it was used regularly up through 1942. It’s been on long-time museum display and still shows fairly well, save for a flat front tire.

It has a convertible top, tiller steering, and 20-mile range when traveling at a top speed of 18-20 mph. Not bad for 115 years old. You will likely never see another, and this one will sell at no reserve. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Jet Electrica 007

1982 Jet Electrica 007

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

Photo – Bonhams

No one may look back at the Dodge Omni and think “sporty,” but that didn’t stop Chrysler from trying when they introduced the Omni 024 3-door hatchback in 1979. Built through 1982, the car and its Plymouth counterpart, the Horizon TC3, were supposed to be an early-80s sports hatch. There was even a De Tomaso trim level.

Meanwhile, during the energy crisis, the U.S. Department of Energy started handing out money to companies that said they would develop and sell electric cars. Jet Industries, primarily known for their snowmobiles (even though they were based in Texas), actually ended up producing about 3,000 “Electrica 007s,” which were just altered Omni 024s.

The Chrysler engine was replaced with a 23 horsepower direct-current electric motor. The hatchback area was full of batteries, and the car could hit 70 mph and attain 60 miles of range (though not at the same time). This would’ve been the perfect Back to the Future car. Only 50 are known to exist, and this one should bring between $5,000-$10,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $12,320.

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.

Baker Electric Convertible

1912 Baker Electric Model W Runabout

Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Hershey, Pennsylvania | October 11, 2018

Photo Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

The Baker Motor Vehicle Company of Cleveland, Ohio, was founded in 1899 by Walter C. Baker. They built passenger vehicles, commercial vehicles, and land speed record cars (yep). All electric. And many of them looked like conventional gasoline-powered automobiles of their time (not something every electric car company could say, though Baker built similar-looking cars too).

This particular car, an ex-Harrah car, had its motor replaced in the 1980s and is now powered by an 18 horsepower unit, and a partial restoration was carried out in 2012. This car looks like a normal convertible from 1912, except that it is essentially square (as long as it is wide, riding on an 80″ wheelbase), which is kind of unusual.

Four different body styles were offered in 1912, with this being the least expensive. In 1914, Baker would merge with Rauch & Lang and the final Bakers rolled off the line in 1916, though commercial vehicles soldiered on for a few more years. Thomas Edison’s first car was a Baker Electric. So if you have a 16-year-old out there waiting for their first ride, go ahead and buy this for them. Maybe they’ll invent something.

This car should bring between $85,000-$100,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $192,500.

1917 Milburn Electric

1917 Milburn Electric Model 27 Brougham

Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Hershey, Pennsylvania | October 11-12, 2018

Photo Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

The Milburn Wagon Company had been around in Toledo since 1848. In 1914 they decided to start building electric cars. Over a thousand were built in 1915 but the factory suffered heavy losses in a fire in 1919. By 1921, 75% of the employees were building bodies for GM cars while only 25% were building electric cars. General Motors bought the plant outright in 1923 and this early electric car manufacturer was gone.

This car featured a 60 mile range when it went on sale, with a top speed of 19 mph. It was one of many such cars with stodgy, upright bodies, but they sold relatively well while electric cars were hot. They were lightweight and this one has been well restored and converted to run on 12-volt batteries.

Milburn built over 4,000 cars in their short lifespan. Survivors are sought after and don’t change hands often. This one should bring between $25,000-$35,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $63,250.

Tesla Roadster

2010 Tesla Roadster

Offered by Mecum | Kansas City, Missouri | March 16-17, 2018

Photo – Mecum

There is no more polarizing automaker right now than Tesla. While their current products and leadership seem to divide people into the groups of Skeptics, Fanboys, or complete indifference, I think we can all agree that the original Tesla, the Roadster, is still a pretty cool car.

The Roadster was produced between 2008 and 2012 and was based on the rolling chassis of a Lotus Elise (much like the Hennessey Venom GT). Instead of fitting it with a small four-cylinder engine, Telsa used their own electric motor which offered a maximum horsepower of 248. The Sport model, which was released in 2009, made 288 horsepower. The base model could hit 60 mph in 3.9 seconds and topped out at 125 mph.

Only about 2,450 of these were built – and so far there is only one of them floating around in space. This is a well-enjoyed model, showing 41,235 miles. It comes with two different tops and charging cables. If electric cars continue become more and more widespread and adopted, then this car will stand as sort of the first of the modern electric road cars as it more or less launched Tesla, the company leading the electric car charge.

When new, this car cost a little over $100,000 and it probably hasn’t depreciated all that much (if it hasn’t appreciated by this point) due to the draw Tesla cars have right now. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $55,000.

Milburn Electric

1918 Milburn Electric Light Brougham

Offered by Barrett-Jackson | Las Vegas, Nevada | October 13-15, 2016

Photo - Barrett-Jackson

Photo – Barrett-Jackson

The Milburn Wagon Company of Toledo, Ohio, got into the car business in 1914 after decades of wagon building (they’d been around since 1848). Their cars closely resembled those built by other major American electric car manufacturers of the day, such as Detroit Electric and Rauch & Lang, among others.

What set the Milburn apart was that their batteries were on rollers – so you could have a spare set at home and just pull into the garage, roll the spent batteries out of your car, roll a fresh set back in, and be off again. In 1918, three bodies were offered and this one could do 30 mph and 100 miles on a charge. It cost $1,885 when new.

Milburn got into the game a little late – by the time they got up and running, the electric car was on the decline. The last Milburn Electrics were built in 1923. There’s no estimate on this car, but there’s no reserve either. Click here for more info and here for more from Barrett-Jackson in Vegas.

Update: Sold $33,000.

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.

1920 Rauch & Lang

1920 Rauch & Lang Electric Model C-45 Dual Drive Coach

Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Hershey, Pennsylvania | October 8-9, 2015

Photo - RM Sotheby's

Photo – RM Sotheby’s

Rauch & Lang traces its history back to Jacob Rauch, a blacksmith in Cleveland who opened his shop in 1853. Charles Lang was a real estate man from nearby and moved the company toward wagon building. In 1905, they turned to electric cars and became one of America’s premier electric car builders in the early days of automobiles.

They built cars through 1928 and this 1920 Model C-45 is how most of them looked. The company moved from Cleveland to Massachusetts in 1920 (after having merged with Baker Electric in 1917) and this car was the final example produced in Cleveland. It uses a three horsepower electric motor. This car can be driven from the left hand seat either in the front or rear, which is pretty interesting. Try that in your Buick. Click here to see more about this car.

Update: Sold $66,000.

Pierre Faure Electric

1941 Pierre Faure Type PFA Biplace Electrique

Offered by Artcurial | Paris, France | February 7, 2014

1941 Pierre Faure Type PFA Biplace Electrique

When the Germans took France, they quickly banned the sale of gasoline to those without special permission to drive. The innovative (including Peugeot) tried their hand at building very small electric cars as a way to build vehicles, stay in business, and keep France motoring.

This car was designed by architect Michel Dufet and produced by Pierre Faure. The engine was a small electric motor making 10 horsepower driving the two rear wheels. It was capable of 25 mph and could do 40 miles on a single charge. About 20 of these two-seaters were built, this being #16. It is in original condition and would be a perfect candidate for complete restoration having spent many years in a museum. It should sell for between $20,000-$34,000. Click here for more info and here for more from Artcurial.

Update: Sold $69,170.