Detroiter Speedster

1912 Detroiter Type A Speedster

Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Hershey, Pennsylvania | October 10-11, 2019

Photo Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

Detroiter was a Detroit, Michigan-based car company that operated from 1912 through 1917. It was founded by Claude Briggs and John Boyle as the Briggs-Detroiter Company. They produced conventional touring cars and coupes using purchased engines.

But they also built some really sharp-looking Speedsters beginning in 1914. This car was actually ordered as a bare chassis by a Detroiter dealer in Indiana. He wanted a Mercer but could get a deal on a Detroiter, so he built a Mercer-style body on the chassis he bought. It ended up being the prototype for later Detroiter Kangaroo Speedsters.

Power is from a 25 horsepower Turner & Moore inline-four cylinder engine. This, the oldest-known Detroiter in existence, will sell at no reserve. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $28,050.

Bellanger Torpedo

1920 Bellanger Type A Series 1 17CV Torpedo

Offered by Bonhams | Paris, France | February 7, 2019

Photo – Bonhams

Bellanger was founded just outside of Paris in 1912 by Robert Bellanger and his brothers. The company only lasted until 1925, when Robert entered politics and sold the factory to Peugeot, who later sold it to Rosengart.

Early Bellanger cars used sleeve-valve engines, but the Type A is powered by a 3.2-liter straight-four rated at 17 taxable horsepower in the day. A four-door Torpedo touring body is fitted.

This particular example is coming out of a collection that Bonhams began liquidating last year. It’s full of rare French and Belgian marques from this era. A recommissioning is recommended as the car has not been used in recent years. When was the last time you saw one? It should sell for between $30,000-$35,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Not sold.

Tracta Gephi

1927 Tracta Type A Gephi

Offered by Osenat | Fontainebleau, France | June 18, 2017

Photo – Osenat

It’s interesting when there is a car in an auction catalog with a low estimate of over half a million dollars and it’s online lot list entry consists of a single sentence. Luckily, you can download Osenat’s full catalogs as PDFs and, though they’re in French, it’s possible to glean enough info to know that this is a truly special car.

Automobiles Tracta operated between 1926 and 1934. They specialized in front-wheel drive cars, and this low-slung race car exhibits founder’s Jean-Albert Grégoire’s expertise in that field. The FWD layout offers the ability to mount everything very low, making it look (and operate) a lot faster than most of its competition.

The first example was built in 1926, prior to the company even being founded. A second example was built for the 1927 24 Hours of Le Mans, of which the catalog describes in detail. It’s a pretty wild story involving Mr. Grégoire driving the race in bandages the day after suffering a terrible accident. At one point, it seems, he had to pull over and exit the car in pain. Le Mans did their best to outlaw “napping under a tree mid-race” for 1928. It’s very unclear if this car was entered in the 1927 race, but it was for sure in 1928.

It’s race history includes:

  • 1928 24 Hours of Le Mans – 16th (with Roger Bourcier and Hector Vasena)
  • 1929 24 Hours of Le Mans – 15th, DNF (with Lucien Lemesle and Maurice Benoist)

The engine is a 1.0-liter straight-four, probably supercharged. The owner of this car heard it drive past his house in the 1950s and chased it down. Years later, in 1958, he was finally able to acquire it, barely beating out an Italian who was also on the hunt for this very car. It’s been the pride of his collection for 59 years. It’s a wonderfully interesting automobile – one of the sportiest French cars of the 1920s – and it has Le Mans history. It is expected to sell for between $560,000-$790,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $786,394.

1900 Bardon

1900 Bardon Type A Tonneau

Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Paris, France | February 3, 2016

Photo - RM Sotheby's

Photo – RM Sotheby’s

Louis Bardon founded his automobile company in 1899 in Puteaux, France. The company produced cars up through 1903 when Georges Richard took over the plant and used it to manufacture Unic cars.

Bardon built a number of different cars over the short lifespan of the company. This car is powered a 4/5 horsepower 1.2-liter opposed-piston single-cylinder engine. That means that there are two pistons that share the same cylinder. It’s a really strange and interesting powerplant.

Only three Bardon cars are known to exist and the other two are in long-term collections, unlikely to come up for sale in the near future, if ever. The restoration on this car was completed a while back but is still a good runner, driver, and shower. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $106,200.

1900 Créanche Voiturette

1900 Créanche Type A Voiturette

Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Paris, France | February 3, 2016

Photo - RM Sotheby's

Photo – RM Sotheby’s

Créanche was a French automobile manufacturer that existed in the very early days of automobiles. There were so many manufacturers of that period, many of which built just a handful of cars. Some lasted for a few years, like this one, which operated from 1899 through 1906.

Most of their cars were De Dion-powered and by 1904 the company offered five different models. This one is powered by a four horsepower, 477cc single-cylinder engine. This example was restored from an original car and the body was reconstructed to match the original in 1972.

This is one of two known survivors of the Créanche brand. It comes from a private Swiss collection (as do three other very interesting cars from this sale). Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $56,240.

1953 Connaught Formula One Car

1953 Connaught Type A

Offered by Silverstone Auctions | Stoneleigh Park, U.K. | February 23, 2013

1953 Connaught Type A

Old race cars can be quite interesting. Especially when they competed at the highest level of motorsport and in the “heyday,” as it were – Formula One in the 1950s. Connaught Engineering was founded by Rodney Clarke and Mike Oliver in Send, England, in 1950.

They made their debut at the 1952 British Grand Prix with a four car effort. In total, the team competed in 18 races over eight seasons, contesting every British Grand Prix and other assorted races. 1953 was their hallmark season, the one where they entered the most races (4).

The Type A was run for four seasons (1950-1954). The cars used a 2.0-liter Lea Francis straight-four making 145 horsepower. With the right gearing, it could do 160 mph. I’ve really tried to do some research to find out who drove this car and in what races, but I’m just not finding what I want. Silverstone lists it as having been driven by Roy Salvadori, John Coombs, Kenneth McAlpine, Ron Flockhart and Bill Whitehouse, with Whitehouse having the most success as a privateer. It has been active in historic racing for some time.

Packaged with a bunch of spares, this historic race car is expected to sell for between $315,000-$395,000. It is one of nine built. Click here for more info and here for the rest of Silverstone’s lineup.

Update: Sold $296,400.

1910 Le Zèbre

1910 Le Zèbre Type A

For sale at Oldtimer Galerie International | Toffen, Switzerland

If this thing looks small, that’s because it is. It almost looks like one of those old cars they have at amusement parks – those kind of 2/3-scale Ford Model Ts. But this looks even smaller – you could fit at least five people in an antique car ride car. And this only has a single cylinder.

Le Zèbre started building cars in 1909 – and they started with single-cylinder engines making a whopping five horsepower. This one displaces 636cc and power reached the rear wheels via shaft drive and a two-speed (all forward) transmission. The cars were popular upon release.

In 1912, a four-cylinder model was added. In 1917, the two founders split up, with Jules Solomon, the driving force behind the company, leaving. In 1924 a new model was introduced, the Type Z. Perhaps this was not the best possible name, because it spelled the downfall of the firm. If you’re going to start it off with a “Type A,” then the “Type Z” seems like a logical conclusion to your business. Poor planning? Or just a shifting market toward bigger, more powerful cars? Probably the latter – Le Zebre closed up shop in 1932.

This car is currently for sale in Toffen, Switzerland, although I suspect it could appear at a forthcoming auction from the company. The price? $35,600. For more information, click here.