Locomobile Steam

1899 Locomobile Style 2 Stanhope

Offered by Bonhams | Philadelphia, Pennsylvania | October 3, 2016

Photo - Bonhams

Photo – Bonhams

Around the turn of the century, Locomobile was among America’s largest automobile manufacturers. In fact, in 1901 and 1902, they were the largest (this was right before Oldsmobile and Ford reinvented mass production). The company was founded in 1899 by John B. Walker and Amzi L. Barber. The two of them purchased a design by the Stanley brothers and sold their first steam cars in 1899.

Costing $600 when new, the 1899 and 1900 Locomobiles were identical and only available in this body style. While they are rare, there are a good number of them still around and we’re amazed we’ve yet to feature one. The steam engine powering this Locomobile develops four horsepower at 150 psi.

This particular example has had two owners from new with the family that currently owns it having acquired it in 1930. It was restored 60 years ago and is used infrequently, thus the decision to part with the car. It’s one of the best examples around with a clear, known history and it should bring between $45,000-$65,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Not sold.

Five Pre-1910 Cars

1909 Sears Model H

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

Photo - RM Sotheby's

Photo – RM Sotheby’s

If you didn’t know that American’s legendary department store catalog offered automobiles, well here’s your history lesson. Between 1908 and 1912, Sears sold cars (high wheelers for the most part because the target audience were rural Americans who ordered things from catalogs). They did it again for a few years in the 1950s with the Allstate.

The Model H uses a 10 horsepower flat-twin and was identical to the 1908 model. The lineup started at model G and ran to the Model L, with each successive letter adding a few more creature comforts and/or styling bits. The restoration here is over a decade old but it is a perfect runner, as Sears’ cars were definitely rugged and reliable. It should bring between $30,000-$50,000. Click here for more info.

Update: Sold $24,750.


1907 Victor Runabout

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

Photo - RM Sotheby's

Photo – RM Sotheby’s

Here’s an interesting one. The lot description makes it seem like there is a little uncertainty as to which of the many Victor automobile marques this is actually related to. Some historical work was carried out and it was determined that this is related to the Overman company of Chicopee Falls, Massachusetts, who produced the Victor Steam car between 1899 and 1903. Our sources don’t show production after 1903, so I’ll take RM’s word for it (they’re pretty smart).

It is powered by a 15 horsepower flat-twin and the restoration dates back to 1967. An early car without a crystal clear birth certificate is always interesting. This car will be a talking point wherever it goes and the new owner will have something absolutely unique and fun. It should bring between $10,000-$15,000. Click here for more info.

Update: Sold $22,000.


1903 Pierce Model 6.5 Stanhope

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

Photo - RM Sotheby's

Photo – RM Sotheby’s

This pre-Arrow Pierce is one of the oldest cars on offer during the Hershey festivities this year. This car is concurrently referred to as a “Fourth Model”, a Model 6-6½, and a Single-Cylinder Stanhope. Pierce offered three models in 1903, and this was the mid-range product.

The engine is a single-cylinder, 6.5-horsepower unit. It has single-family ownership back to 1948. The car was never completely restored, just brought up to good-looking usable condition around 1948. It is usable today. Less than 150 off these were built and this one could bring between $75,000-$100,000. Click here for more info.

Update: Sold $57,750.


1903 Columbus Electric Folding-Top Runabout

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

Photo - RM Sotheby's

Photo – RM Sotheby’s

One great thing about the early days of automobiles is that there were just so many companies. And some names re-appear multiple times but separately. Columbus is one such name. There were at least four different Columbus makes (not including Columbia). At least two of them built electric cars at some point. This Columbus, Ohio-built example is from the Columbus Buggy Company who built electric cars between 1903 and 1915.

The 1903 through 1905 Folding-Top Runabout was the only model offered by the company. It is powered by a low-power DC electric motor. It’s simple, pretty, and basically, an historical artifact. Only bits of this car have actually been redone, meaning it is partly original. It should bring between $100,000-$150,000. Click here for more info.

Update: Not sold.


1908 Holsman High-Wheel Runabout

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

Photo - RM Sotheby's

Photo – RM Sotheby’s

Holsman of Chicago built high-wheelers between 1902 and 1910. Quite a few of them remain, which is fortunate because as you can see, they can actually be quite pretty. Look how big those wheels are! The black paint is nice and shiny with gorgeous red pin striping.

Holsman offered four models in 1908, all high-wheelers. They were all powered by a 12.8 horsepower 1.6-liter flat-twin. Three of the models were Runabouts – models 5, 9, and 10. It is unclear which of these models this car represents, as well as what the difference between those model designations even is. What a good-looking car. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $38,500.

Sperry Electric

1900 Cleveland Sperry System Electric Stanhope

Offered by Bonhams | London, U.K. | October 31, 2014

Photo - Bonhams

Photo – Bonhams

Elmer A. Sperry invented some electric arc lamps and electric mining equipment before he moved to Cleveland in the 1890s. He was there to help establish an electric railway company, but started fooling around with automobiles and produced his first electric car in 1898. The Sperry Electric went on sale in 1899 under the name Cleveland Sperry System. In the car’s final year, 1901, they were just called “Sperry.”

They are powered by a 3.5 horsepower electric motor and could be had in one of eight body styles. This is a three-seat stanhope. Sperry sold their patents to the Cleveland Machine Screw Company in 1901 and they produced the car under the Cleveland marque from 1902 through 1904. Part of Sperry’s electric engineering company still exists today as part of Honeywell.

This car is one of two Sperrys known to exist. It has known history for the last 25 years and has been run in many rallies and shown at many shows around the U.K. It should sell for between $77,000-$83,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $88,151.

Warwick Stanhope

1902 Warwick 6hp Four-Seat Stanhope

Offered by Bonhams | London, U.K. | November 1, 2013

1902 Warwick 6hp Four-Seat Stanhope

Warwick was a very short-lived automobile marque. They introduced their first car toward the end of 1901 and were out of business by 1905. The company was based out of Springfield, Massachusetts, which was kind of a hot bed for early automobile manufacturers.

In 1902, Warwick introduced their most powerful car, the six horsepower model powered by a 700cc De Dion engine. This example was a barn find of the late 1980s and was restored in the U.K., where it has resided since. Yes, the third and fourth seat are rear-facing, for those of you wondering how this is a “four-seat” Stanhope.

Only being in production for a little over three years will make any car rare. It was once noted that this may be the only surviving 6hp Warwick. It should sell for between $97,000-$110,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Not sold.

1903 Stevens-Duryea

1903 Stevens-Duryea Model L Stanhope

Offered by RM Auctions | Hershey, Pennsylvania | October 10-11, 2013

1903 Stevens-Duryea Model L Stanhope

In 1902, J. Frank Duryea joined the Stevens Arms and Tool Company. The Duryea Brothers are one of the most interesting stories to come out of the early automobile industry. They built some beautiful cars together before going their separate ways.

Stevens-Duryea built its first car in 1902 and this is from the year after – making it one of the oldest Stevens-Duryeas in existence. It’s a Model L that originally used a flat-twin engine but is now powered by a Harley-Davidson V-Twin. This car had work done to it a long time ago (when it lost its engine in the 1940s or 50s) but it looks good today and it usable. The transmission and frame are also non-original.

RM states that the car could be restored further toward its original state or you could leave it like it is. Stevens-Duryea continued to build cars – that got bigger and bigger and more and more ludicrously expensive. Production ceased around 1923 but cars were still being sold out of old inventory through 1927. This is a $20,000-$30,000 car as is (and yes, I know, that’s a big range). Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $15,400.

Pierce Motorette

1904 Pierce Motorette Model 8M Stanhope

Offered by Bonhams | Paris, France | February 7, 2013

1904 Pierce Motorette Model 8M Stanhope

George N. Pierce started manufacturing vehicles at the end of 1900. The company would later become Pierce-Arrow (1909), but at the time, Pierce was producing De Dion engines under license and small little cars like this. In fact, the Motorette was the first production model from Pierce.

It uses a single-cylinder engine (of eerily similar design to the De Dion engine they had previously been paying royalties to manufacture under license) making eight horsepower. The stanhope bodystyle is interesting – the driver is in the rear and the passengers sit up front in an expandable front seat. It’s like a reverse rumble seat.

This car is largely original – it has been “refreshed” in the past after sitting for a while in order to take part in the London to Brighton Run. It has been in museums and large private collections, including James Melton’s Autorama. This rare car is a great example of George Pierce’s smaller, earlier cars. It should sell for between $66,000-$85,000. Click here for more info, and here for more from Bonhams.

Update: Sold $80,100.

1906 Columbus Electric

1906 Columbus Electric Model 1000 Stanhope

Offered by RM Auctions | Hershey, Pennsylvania | October 11-12, 2012

The Columbus Buggy Company of Columbus, Ohio was founded in 1875 by Clinton Firestone and his partners, brothers George & Oscar Peters. Columbus, Ohio was known for the plethora of buggy manufacturers but by the turn of the century the automobile was gaining traction in America. In 1903, the Columbus Buggy Company turned to these motorized machines.

Both gasoline and electric cars were available. This Model 1000 Electric Stanhope has a 24-volt DC motor making 1.5 horsepower. It was restored before most collectible cars were new and looks as old as it is. It has been in collections and museums constantly since the 1940s.

Columbus went belly-up in 1913, but not before having given people like Harvey Firestone and Eddie Rickenbacker their start in the business world. This car is a rare example of this marque and is expected to sell – even in its somewhat rough condition – for between $40,000-$60,000. For more info, click here. And for more from RM Auctions, click here.

Update: Sold $52,250.

World’s First 4-cylinder Car

1895 Buffum Four-Cylinder Stanhope

Offered by Bonhams | Carmel, California | August 17, 2012

You’re looking at the oldest American car ever offered for auction and the oldest American gasoline-powered car in private ownership. It was also the first four-cylinder car ever built – anywhere in the world. And you’ve likely never heard of it.

Herbert H. Buffum built his first car in 1895 (actually he started it in 1894). Anyway, this is it. While other early automotive manufacturers where attaching single and twin-cylinder engines, Buffum had an idea for something a little more useful but just as compact. A designer and builder of machines for the shoe industry, Buffum had the technical know-how to accomplish what he wanted. And what he accomplished was building the world’s first four-cylinder gasoline engine for an automobile. It was a inline-four.

A chassis was needed to house this technical marvel – and for that Buffum turned to a local carriage builder named George Pierce, a name that would go on to be synonymous with high-quality automobiles in the next decade. Buffum was secretive with his new car, keeping it locked away in a shed when not using it, but eventually he hand-built six others for customers prior to 1900, when he entered production as an official manufacturer. The cars he produced until 1906 were front-engined cars, unlike most of their American competitors.

Other Buffum firsts included America’s first eight-cylinder car (of 80 horsepower) in 1904. In 1905 saw the world’s first V8. Buffum died in 1933 and his widow sold this car the following year from the secretive shed where he kept it stashed. It has changed hands numerous times and has appeared in a number of museums. It is operational and presents an extremely rare opportunity to acquire a pre-1898 American car (as almost all of the others reside in museums).

The pre-sale estimate is $200,000-$280,000. For more details, click here. And for the rest of the lineup from Bonhams in Carmel, click here.

Update: Not sold.

Update II: Sold, $182,000 at Bonhams Veteran Motor Car sale, 2012.