Simplex 50HP

1912 Simplex Model 50 Five-Passenger Torpedo Tourer

Offered by Bonhams | Scottsdale, Arizona | January 27, 2023

Photo – Bonhams

The Simplex 50 was one of, if not the, finest pre-WWI American car built. It was the launch model for Simplex, a company that was formed when Herman Broesel purchased the company that made the S&M Simplex. Engineer Edward Francquist had just finished designing the engine for the Model 50, so it was the first car launched under the new Simplex marque.

The Model 50 remained on sale from 1910 through 1916. It was their most popular – although not their most powerful – model, powered by a 50-horsepower, 9.8-liter inline-four. It was a massive thing connected to a four-speed manual transaxle and dual chain drive. In 1912, this was a sports car, even though it seats five in a big Quimby-built touring car body.

About 250 Simplex 50HPs were built, and this one was purchased new by a Vanderbilt for his fiancée, tennis player Eleonora Sears. They never got married, but she kept the car for about a quarter century. It was most recently restored in the 2000s. This is one of the best pre-WWI cars you can buy, regardless of where it was built. The estimate is a hearty $2,500,000-$3,500,000. Click here for more info.

A Long, Low Lanchester

1915 Lanchester Sporting Forty Torpedo Tourer

Offered by Bonhams | London, U.K. | November 4, 2022

Photo – Bonhams

The Lanchester Motor Company was founded by Frederick, George, and Frank Lanchester, a trio of brothers who built their first car in 1895. The company was acquired by BSA in 1930, and it wound up as part of Daimler, which came under the control of Jaguar in 1960. But by that time, the Lanchester marque had been discontinued for five years.

This car is very striking. Early Lanchesters were kind of funky looking, with the driver more or less sitting over the engine, no front hood, and an upright radiator directly in front of the passenger compartment, which was still rearward of the front axle. It was… awkward.

The Sporting Forty was introduced near the end of 1913. It had a more conventional layout, with the engine moved forward in the chassis. Imagine a company bragging about that today. It’s powered by a 5.5-liter inline-six. Just six were built before WWI broke out. In 1919, the “40” was re-introduced, but it was a somewhat different car.

This example was Lanchester’s demonstrator and is the only remaining Sporting Forty. A restoration was completed around 2004. Bonhams has an estimate of $200,000-$245,000 on it. Click here for more info.

Update: Sold $256,286.

Bugatti Type 22

1914 Bugatti Type 22 Torpedo by Chauvet

Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Monterey, California | August 18-20, 2022

Photo Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

This car looks like a toy. From pretty much every angle, too. The body is by Carrosserie Chauvet, a coachbuilder that was active in the north of France from 1912 until 1929. This is their only surviving body on a Bugatti. It’s a small boattail torpedo with two tiny seats up front and maybe more seating under a hard tonneau behind a second cowl? Hard to say. The photos really leave a lot to the imagination.

The top looks like it would get ripped off of this thing at about 20 mph. Which is probably a good cruising speed here, as the car is powered by a bright red, Ettore Bugatti-signatured 1.4-liter inline-four that made about 30 horsepower.

The Type 22 was a road car, and they were built from 1913 through about 1922. Production totals are not widely known, but it was not many. And even less are left. This one has an estimate of $200,000-$250,000. Read more about it here.

Update: Sold $335,000.

1926 Lorraine-Dietrich

1926 Lorraine-Dietrich A4 Torpedo Sport

Offered by Aguttes | Neuilly, France | March, 27, 2022

Photo – Aguttes

Lorraine-Dietrich cars came about when their parent company, a locomotive manufacturer, branched out into automobiles in 1896. Initial cars were an Amedee Bollee design, and by 1902 the designs were by a young Ettore Bugatti. Later events saw a short-lived merger with Isotta Fraschini and a sweeping of the podium at the 1926 24 Hours of Le Mans.

This A4 is also from 1926. It’s powered by a 12-horsepower, 2.3-liter inline-four and served as the company’s entry-level model. This car was restored in the last decade, starting that time out as a bare chassis and pile of parts.

So the body is a new one, but it looks the part, especially in French racing blue. The pre-sale estimate is $39,000-$60,000. Click here for more info.

Update: Sold $47,234.

S.P.A. Torpedo

1913 S.P.A. 25HP Sport Torpedo

Offered by Bonhams | Paris, France | February 3, 2022

Photo – Bonhams

Societa Piemontese Automobili was founded in Italy by Matteo Ceirano and Michele Ansaldi in 1906. The Ceirano family was involved in various early Italian marques, including Itala, SCAT, Ceirano, and others. S.P.A. was taken over in 1925 by Fiat, who phased the marque out.

S.P.A. had some sporting credentials, winning the Targa Florio in 1909. This 25HP model is powered by a 4.4-liter inline-four. The bodywork, while sporty, is described in the auction catalog as a passenger car with a speedster-style body. The coachbuilder is unknown.

This car was delivered new in France and later spent time in the Le Mans Museum before being purchased by its current owner in the 1990s. Not many S.P.A. cars still exist, and this one appears rather nice. It is expected to sell for between $230,000-$270,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $450,469.

1909 Cooper

1909 Cooper 22.5HP Torpedo Tourer

Offered by Bonhams | London, U.K. | November 5, 2021

Photo – Bonhams

If your tiny car company built six cars over 110 years ago, you’d think the chances of any of them surviving would be essentially nil. But don’t tell that to the long-deceased Thomas Cooper of the Cooper Steam Digger Company Ltd of Norfolk, England. His company typically built steam traction engines and farm equipment. But in 1909 he designed a two-stroke 3.3-liter inline-four that he debuted in a motorcar at that year’s Olympia Motor Show.

It had a three-speed gearbox and a two-speed rear axle. Only six cars were built, each of them different. This is the only survivor. It was parked in 1921 and re-discovered in 1951, where its history trail picks up.

It was later restored and acquired by its current owner in 1994. Museum duty followed, with the car last driven in 2014. It now carries a pre-sale estimate of $55,000-$83,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $44,735.

Zedel Type P Torpedo

1923 Zedel Type P 15HP Torpedo

Offered by Aguttes | Neuilly, France | March 21, 2021

Photo – Aguttes

Ernest Zurcher and Herman Luthi founded Zedel in Switzerland in 1896. In 1903, they set up a second manufacturing location in France, and it was successful enough that the Swiss location eventually closed, making Zedel a predominantly French marque thereafter. It was taken over by Donnet in 1919, and the marque was changed to Donnet-Zedel in 1924.

The Type P is said to feature a “large displacement” inline-four that was rated at 15 taxable horsepower when new. The body is the story here, though. It looks long and low. It is long, but I think the shadows are making the roof look much more “chopped” than it really is. It makes it look menacing.

The pre-sale estimate on this car is $12,000-$18,000. You can read more about it here and see more from this sale here.

Update: Sold $21,429.

Demeester Torpedo

1905 Demeester 8HP Torpedo

Offered by Aguttes | Neuilly, France | March 21, 2021

Photo – Aguttes

Reading is hard. It has taken me far too long to realize that this car was built by Demeester, of Courbevoie, France, and not by Deemster, of London. Automobiles Demeester was founded in late 1905 by Leon Demeester and Dominique Lambejack.

The company built small cars, starting with twins and singles and eventually progressing to a line of four-cylinder cars before the company closed in 1914. This very early example is powered by a 1.1-liter inline-four that made eight horsepower. Demeester bragged that its eight-horsepower four-cylinder engine was the smallest such powerplant in the world.

This car has been in the ownership of the same family since 1966. It even retains its original bodywork. Side note, based on other sources, the 1.1-liter four may not have been introduced until 1907, meaning this car could’ve been built a little later than it is currently titled. It should sell for between $24,000-$36,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $126,439.

Georges Roy Torpedo

1910 Georges Roy Type O Torpedo

Offered by Artcurial | Grezillac, France | September 27, 2020

Photo – Artcurial

Automobiles Georges Roy was founded in Bordeaux in 1906. They started out with single-cylinder cars and steadily worked their way up to sixes. The company was popular enough locally that it was able to survive for a few decades.

Passenger car production wrapped in 1929, and truck production continued on through 1932. This Type O Torpedo features a cylindrical engine compartment and circular radiator grille. Power is from a 2.2-liter inline-four.

The car actually appears quite large from the angle shown above, but its side-profile proportions make it seem much smaller. This is a rare touring car from a company not often represented at public sale. Seldom used in the last few years of museum duty, this car is offered with an estimate of $16,000-$21,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $41,836.

Lancia Lambda

1924 Lancia Lambda 3rd Series Torpedo

Offered by Gooding & Company | London, U.K. | TBD…

Photo – Gooding & Company

Lancia’s Lambda was a groundbreaking car. It was the first unibody production car and featured an independent front suspension and a narrow-angle V4 powerplant. The Lambda was produced in nine series between 1922 and 1931. Lancia also produced a “Dilambda,” which was less interesting.

The 3rd Series Lambda was built in 1924 and featured an updated 2.1-liter V4 that produced 49 horsepower. This Torpedo-bodied roadster was sold new in Uruguay and later spent time in Briggs Cunningham‘s museum.

About 800 examples of the 3rd Series were built. This example looks incredibly sporty for 1924, and it’s burgundy finish is quite striking. Gooding lists a pre-sale estimate of $405,000-$510,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $498,577.