Two Almost-Cars

1901 Royal Enfield 4½HP Forecar Quadricycle

Offered by Bonhams | London, U.K. | November 3, 2017

Photo – Bonhams

Royal Enfield was, primarily, a motorcycle manufacturer that was born out of a company that made bicycles. The company lasted until about 1970, though new bikes from the marque can still be acquired as the Indian arm of the company has remained active since 1949.

What we have here is a “Forecar” – meaning that the vehicle’s passenger doubles as the front bumper and crumple zone. The quadricycle portion essentially means that they strapped two motorcycles together (sort of). Enfield’s first true vehicles were in fact quadricycles and tricycles. Motorcycles didn’t technically enter the picture until 1900, so this design actually predates Royal Enfield motorcycles. This one is powered by a single-cylinder De Dion-Bouton engine.

Having resided in an Italian museum for many decades, the current owner bought this in 2007. The restoration dates to the 1950s so it definitely needs a little attention before use. It should bring between $33,000-$40,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $66,332.


1904 La Libellule V-Twin Tricar

Offered by Bonhams | London, U.K. | November 3, 2017

Photo – Bonhams

Every year at this sale it seems like Bonhams manages to consign at least one car from a marque that has such an obscure history that no one really knows anything about it.

Enter La Libellule, or The Dragonfly. These early three-wheeled forecars were available from a number of manufacturers. It was essentially a motorcycle with two wheels at the front that support a wicker basket that you could plop an easily-influenced friend (or enemy) into. It’s like having a sidecar, but in front of you.

Not much is known about this company other than no records of it really exist prior to 1906, which is why this is listed as a “circa 1904” in the catalog. It’s had three owners since 1921 and has been in the same collection since about 1960. The restoration dates to the 1980s, when it first competed in the London-to-Brighton run. It should bring between $27,000-$33,000 today. Click here for more info and here for more from this amazing sale.

Update: Sold $42,211.

Humber Forecar

1903 Humber 2¾hp Olympia Tandem Forecar

Offered by Bonhams | London, U.K. | November 4, 2016

Photo - Bonhams

Photo – Bonhams

Thomas Humber began selling bicycles in the 1880s in England and in 1898 introduced their first “car” – a three-wheeler based on a motorcycle, much like the one you see here. More traditional, four-wheeled cars appeared in 1901. A long and interesting history followed, culminating in Humber, as part of Chrysler Europe, being sold to Peugeot and the Humber marque was renamed Talbot, before being phased out in 1986 – 100 years after the introduction of their first motorized vehicle.

Early motorcycles did not have room enough for two riders. So if you wanted the convenience of a motorcycle but the passenger capacity of a small car, a Tandem Forecar like this was your best bet. Many companies that existed in the early days of the automobile that built motorcycles offered similar things. This one is powered by a 2.75 horsepower 403cc single-cylinder engine.

Formerly a part of the Rootes Group Heritage Collection (Humber was owned by the Rootes Group from about 1929 through 1967), this Forecar is among the oldest known Humbers in existence. It will take a slight effort to get it running again, but it has been fastidiously maintained and wants to get back on the road. It should sell for between $43,000-$49,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $45,966.

Phebus Forecar

1899 Phebus 2¼hp Forecar

Offered by H&H Classics | Duxford, U.K. | October 12, 2016

Photo - H&H Classics

Photo – H&H Classics

Phebus was a French automobile marque produced by the Noe Boyer & Cie company from the Paris area. They only existed for a few years – building vehicles between about 1899 (or 1898) and 1903. While many of their vehicles were tricycles and motorcycles, they did produce a few four-wheelers, too.

This is a single-cylinder Veteran car that makes, as its name implies, 2.25 horsepower. It technically seats two, but if you look at the car, it just kind of seems like a huge motorized wheelchair for one. I guess people were smaller almost 120 years ago.

This particular car sold at a Bonhams auction in 2009 for $63,000 and is expected to bring between $64,000-$77,000. It seems unlikely that you’ll ever find another one quite like it. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Not sold.

Update II: Not sold, H&H Classics, Chateau Impney, 12/16.

Garrard Forecar

1904 Garrard Suspended Forecar

Offered by Bonhams | Beaulieu, U.K. | September 3, 2016

Photo - Bonhams

Photo – Bonhams

While this car is technically being sold as a restoration project, it is still very interesting. Charles Garrard started importing Clement engines from France in 1902. His idea was to attach them to tricycle frames and build Forecars, a popular, if not dangerous, style of transport in England in the day (nothing like having your passenger be your front bumper!).

They were originally called Clement-Garrards, until 1904 when he dropped the Clement part. Garrard ceased production shortly thereafter, making this 1904 model very rare. This tricar is powered by a four horsepower v-twin and should sell for between $21,000-$31,000. Click here for more info.

Update: Not sold.

Five Pre-1920 Cars

Five Pre-1920 Cars

Offered by Bonhams | Beaulieu, U.K. | September 3, 2016


1913 Chalmers Model 17 36HP Five-Passenger Tourer

Photo - Bonhams

Photo – Bonhams

Chalmers was formed in 1908, sort of, when Hugh Chalmers bought out ER Thomas from Thomas-Detroit. Early cars were badged Chalmers-Detroit, before becoming just Chalmers in 1911. The marque lasted through 1924 after merging with Maxwell in 1922. This merged company is known today as “Chrysler.”

The 1913 Model 17 was the mid-range model, offered in six body configurations with the Five-Passenger Tourer being the least expensive at $1,950. It is powered by a 36 horsepower straight-four. This example was imported into the U.K. in 2005 and mechanically restored shortly thereafter. It’s a runner and driver, with a lot of original pieces left, like the interior. It should sell for between $26,000-$32,000. Click here for more info.

Update: Sold $39,879.


1908 Clyde 8/10HP Silent Light Roadster

Photo - Bonhams

Photo – Bonhams

Clyde is a very interesting automobile manufacturer from Leicester that was founded by George Wait as a bicycle manufacturer in 1890. Automobiles came in 1901. Remarkably, by the time the company closed up shop in 1930, only about 260 cars had been produced.

This car is powered by a twin-cylinder White & Poppe engine and was owned by the company founder in the 1950s. It was restored in the early 1960s an then put on display in a museum from 1962 through 2003, when it went to America. Now it’s back in the U.K., having covered only about 100 miles since its restoration. It is one of three Clydes known to exist and should bring between $26,000-$39,000. Click here for more info.

Update: Not sold.


1909 Briton 7HP

Photo - Bonhams

Photo – Bonhams

The Briton Motor Company was based in Wolverhampton and was founded as an offshoot of the Star Cycle Company under the direction of Edward Lisle, Jr. The first cars appeared in 1909 and the marque lasted through 1928, although it was dormant for a few years in between.

Among the first models the company produced was the 7HP “Little Briton” – a seven horsepower, twin-cylinder runabout that seats two. It was a light car and it was cheap. Only five of these remain and this is the oldest, having been delivered new to Ireland. Forty years ago it was stashed in a barn and only discovered again in 2015, when it was restored to running condition and refurbished as needed. It should bring between $21,000-$26,000. Click here for more info.

Update: Not sold.


1904 Garrard Suspended Forecar

Photo - Bonhams

Photo – Bonhams

While this car is technically being sold as a restoration project, it is still very interesting. Charles Garrard started importing Clement engines from France in 1902. His idea was to attach them to tricycle frames and build Forecars, a popular, if not dangerous, style of transport in England in the day (nothing like having your passenger be your front bumper!).

They were originally called Clement-Garrards, until 1904 when he dropped the Clement part. Garrard ceased production shortly thereafter, making this 1904 model very rare. This tricar is powered by a four horsepower v-twin and should sell for between $21,000-$31,000. Click here for more info.

Update: Not sold.


1914 Rochet-Schneider 12HP Limousine by Allignol

Photo - Bonhams

Photo – Bonhams

Rochet-Schneider was a French automobile marque – and by the time this car was built in 1914, it was already a very old one. Edouard Rochet and Theophile Schneider joined forces (as did their families’ legacy businesses) in 1894 to produce automobiles. Production would last through 1932.

This car has known history back to 1954 and was restored in the late 1990s (with the exception of the interior). It is powered by a 12 horsepower, 2.6-liter engine, capable of long distances at 40 mph. While French cars of this era aren’t the most powerful or the fastest, this model, with Limousine coachwork by Allignol, is rather imposing. It should bring between $23,000-$28,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $23,007.