Precursors and Birth of Motor Vehicles
1860 The Stagecoach
2014 SOLD for $ 330K including premium
Wheel maker and leather craftsman, Lewis Downing helped to create the definitive shape to this vehicle whose opulence was required to offer enough comfort to the bold travelers. Based in Concord, New Hampshire, he was associated from 1826 with the younger coachbuilder JS Abbot.
From 1827 to 1899, about 1,700 carriages of Concord Coach brand were manufactured by Abbot-Downing (the 'Abbott' spelling is sometimes used but is wrong). Three basic models were available for 6, 9 or 12 passengers, pulled by 2, 4 or 6 horses.
On October 10 in Hershey, RM Auctions sells an Abbot-Downing stagecoach, lot 256 estimated $ 225K.
This specimen in the middle size for four horses had been delivered in 1860 to a company in Kalamazoo, Michigan to ensure a regular transportation with the neighboring city of Grand Rapids.
The family workshops of Abbot and Downing were organized into separate companies from 1847 until their logical reunification in 1865. Their co-operation had remained close, so that it makes no sense to try to guess which one made and delivered the Abbot-Downing stagecoach of Kalamazoo.
1884 The Oldest Marquise
2011 SOLD 4.6 M$ including premium
La Marquise, made in 1884, with two pairs of different-size wheels, is the first successful prototype and is still the oldest car capable of running. Its general shape is already not like a boiler, but that of a real car.
In 1887, La Marquise won the first event considered as a car race between Paris and Versailles, without difficulty because it was the only competitor.
Yet the experiments of Benz, begun in 1885, would soon show that the petrol engine was a better choice than steam.
La Marquise was a sensation at Pebble Beach on August 19, 2007, when it was sold $ 3.5 million including premium by Gooding on an estimate of $ 1.5 M. Before this sale, it was illustrated in the article shared by LeBlogAuto.
Certainly, La Marquise likes auctions. It is for sale on October 7 in Hershey PA by RM Auctions. It is conservatively estimated $ 2M.
POST SALE COMMENT
This fabulous milestone in the history of motor vehicles was sold for $ 4.2 million before fees, 4.6 million including premium.
Here is a video introduced and shared by RMAuctions on YouTube by courtesy of Great Cars TV:
1894 Contest of Quadricycles
2018 SOLD for £ 360K including premium
On another stand in the same gallery Panhard et Levassor display a prototype of Daimler quadricycle equipped with a two-cylinder in V petrol engine. The future for the automobile is that 'gasoline'. Peugeot begins to assemble vehicles fitted with the Daimler V2 which is manufactured under licence by Panhard et Levassor. In 1892 the Peugeot company becomes Les Fils de Peugeot Frères.
Paris is passionate about technical progress and also about its applications. Le Petit Journal multiplies the events. The Paris-Brest-Paris bicycle race is organized in 1891. A Peugeot Type 3 equipped with a Daimler-Panhard engine manages to follow the entire run. Including its round trip between the Valentigney factory and Paris, it had traveled 2100 km.
In July 1894 Le Petit Journal organizes Paris-Rouen which is not a competition of speed but a contest of automobiles judged on three criteria : safety, easiness of use and cheapness. The prize of 5000 francs is shared between Panhard et Levassor and Les Fils de Peugeot Frères. The star model of this event is the new Peugeot Type 5 designed for racing. This two-seater quadricycle is equipped with the Daimler-Panhard V2.
Fourteen Peugeot Type 5 were built. One of them has retained its original chassis, mechanical equipment and bodywork. It has been repainted and the water tank has been changed. In this sensational condition of authenticity it will be sold on November 2 in London by Bonhams, lot 306 estimated £ 300K, and will participate in the veteran car run from London to Brighton on November 4.
This car has kept a remarkable traceability. Its terminus post quem is the delivery of the engine by Panhard in December 1893 and its terminus ante quem is the delivery to its first owner in November 1895. It appears likely to experts that it was stored for slightly more than a year by Peugeot after being one of the five Type 5 entered by the brand on Paris-Rouen.
After strategic disagreements with his cousin, Armand Peugeot left in 1896 Les Fils de Peugeot Frères and founded the Société des Automobiles Peugeot.
1903 The Oldest Surviving Ford Car
2007 SOLD 700 K$ including premium by RM Auctions
2012 SOLD 264 K$ including premium
Unsold on August 12, 2010 by RM Auctions in Monterey, the oldest surviving car of Ford Motor Company brand is back in the same auction house on 11 and 12 October in Hershey PA.
Here is how I introduced this car two years ago, under the title Henry Ford on the road to success:
Henry Ford was a visionary and ambitious creator, and it is almost forgotten now how his beginnings were difficult.His second company, named Henry Ford Company, failed at its inception as a result of disputes with financial backers, giving rise to Cadillac. Worse, the first Cadillac released in October 1902 was built according to his own drawings.
Here we see the art of the great American businessmen to bounce back from failure. In June 1903, Henry Ford founded the Ford Motor Company whose Model A, almost identical to the first Cadillac, was released the following month.Within two years, 1750 Model A cars were produced.
A prolific inventor, Ford ever imagined new solutions. The Model T, which secured his industrial glory and revolutionized the use and history of car, went only five years later.
RM Auctions sells a Ford Model A made in July 1903. It is equipped with the "tonneau" option including two additional seats accessible from the rear. Unlike vis-à-vis (face to face) carriages, the four seats are positioned in the same direction.
It is the only survivor of the first three cars sold by Ford Motor Company.
The photos of this car are shared by Hemmings Daily. Their post is also disclosing the new estimate, $ 300K to 500K, consistent with the last bid of the unsuccessful sale of 2010 and lower than its last success at auction: $ 700K including premium, also by RM Auctions, in the Arizona sale of January 19, 2007.
POST SALE COMMENT
The Ford A was sold $ 264K including premium. We shall consider that this is its fair price, and that the previous result at $ 700K including premium in 2007 was a heartfelt bidding which was not repeated.
1904 As Simple as a Mercedes
2016 SOLD for $ 2.8M including premium
Only the richest can buy cars. The first Phönix is provided to Emil Jellinek, Austro-Hungarian consul in Nice and motor sport fan. A pioneer in automotive marketing, Jellinek endeavors to study the needs of the wealthy residents of the French Riviera and becomes the exclusive distributor of DMG in the area.
Customers do not call for a technical feat. They wish a user friendly vehicle, reliable, stable, comfortable. Jellinek understands that the manufacturer must lighten the engine and the body, increase the wheelbase and lower the center of gravity. He forwards these specifications to Wilhelm Maybach, the designer of the Phönix. Jellinek creates in 1901 and deposits in 1902 the name of the first model produced by DMG for his needs : Mercedes.
Again with the technical involvement of Maybach, an improved model appears from 1902. This luxury car is named Mercedes Simplex, which looks anachronistic today for a luxury vehicle but the high society of that time appreciated that the use of an automobile became simple. The operation performed by Jellinek is a great success : customers are accepting to pay an expensive price if they get quality and easiness.
A range of Mercedes Simplex is offered. The top power is increased to 60 hp in 1903. The 28-32 hp is among the high end. A Mercedes Simplex 28-32 hp made in 1904 is estimated $ 2.5M for sale on August 19 by Bonhams at Quail Lodge, Carmel CA, lot 27.
After its rediscovery in the mid-1970s, this vehicle has undergone many changes made necessary after half a century of storage in an English farm. It is now a frequent entrant of the London To Brighton Veteran Car Runs. It is offered in a five seat rear entrance tonneau body.
1904 Renault Frères from A to Z
2016 SOLD for £ 270K including premium
This invention is effective : after a spectacular climb of rue Lepic in Montmartre in December 1898, the demand is high. Louis, Marcel and Fernand found the Renault Frères company a few months later.
The new brand engages its voiturettes in inter-city races. Louis is responsible for engineering and production. He is highly creative and the diversification is sustained. The new models are identified by the successive letters of the alphabet. K is reached in 1902, S in 1903 and Z in 1905. The death of Marcel in 1903 suspends the sporting ambitions but does not stop the industrial development.
In 1903 a new milestone is reached with the Type N for which Renault Frères use an engine of their own. The N-A and N-B variants are the first for that brand to use a 4-cylinder engine that generates new solutions for the cooling system and the signature sloped nose which will be famous in popular imagery with the Taxis de la Marne. N-C is smaller with only two cylinders.
On November 4 in London, Bonhams sells a Renault N-B 14/20 hp manufactured in 1904, lot 205 estimated £ 250K. Its tonneau body perfectly matches the family use for which this variant was designed.
COMMENT DURING THE SALE
The catalog has been amended stating that this car is a Model U Type B and not a Model N Type B.
1905 The Old FIAT
2014 SOLD for $ 825K including premium
A preview for the next sale is already available on the site of the auction house but I prefer linking to the previous sale with a full description of the car.
Here is how I introduced it last year (text slightly modified for providing the information on size, power and chassis):
FIAT (Fabbrica Italiana Automobili Torino) was founded in 1899, not by a manufacturer but by a group of investors who understood that Italy must not stay behind Germany and France.
The market offered huge opportunities for bold companies and the early FIAT strategy to focus on the volume of production instead on the technical innovations was immediately winning.
The success is so great that FIAT diversifies its products and provides luxury cars for export. The 60HP, released in 1905, is more a range than just a model. Equipped with a huge 10.6 litre 60 horsepower engine, it is one of the largest cars of its time with variants in 3m and 3.33m wheelbase.
Coachworked in touring, it embarks five passengers, two in front and three in rear. Its compact design is very elegant, making it difficult to imagine its unusual size from photos.
The first unit was supplied to the Emperor of Germany, and the second to Busch, the owner of American breweries, in the shorter wheelbase chassis.
This 60HP ex Busch has remained entirely in its original condition, not only for its pieces of equipment but also for painting, brass, upholstery. It is exceptional that a so old time capsule from such a high end model becomes available on the market.
1907 The Inverted Suspension
2014 SOLD for $ 1.43M including premium
This inverted concept received the nickname of American Underslung which will be officially applied in 1912 to the cars of this brand.
On October 6 in Philadelphia, Bonhams sells an American Underslung roadster made in 1907, lot 341 estimated $ 900K, in the 50hp variant with the very new 7.8 liter engine of the brand.
Despite Vanderbilt's promotional efforts for competition, the American users were not so interested in sports cars as they preferred to enjoy the freedom of travel offered by the more conventional models. The American Motor Car Company was not viable and went bankrupt in 1913.
The sale takes place at the Simeone Foundation Museum, which specializes in preserving early automotive vehicles. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of this American Underslung will be donated to the museum.
Let us end this article on a picturesque detail: the first owner of this car in 1907 was well ahead of the fashion for sports cars : he had purchased this one for using it during his honeymoon.
1907 Motorcycles in Milwaukee
2015 SOLD for $ 650K before fees
The city of Milwaukee has a specialty for machine tools and railways and is a natural place for such developments. For example, Merkel is a manufacturer of engines and already assembles motorcycles. Evinrude designs gas engines for automobiles.
In such a suitable environment, two very young men, William Harley and Arthur Davidson, build their first prototype of a motorized bicycle. In 1903, after two years of effort, it is a disappointment: the machine is not able to climb hills without assistance of pedals.
This failure galvanizes the inventors. Their audacity, which will be winning, is to equip their two wheelers with increasingly larger engines, ensuring forever the difference between pedal bicycle and motorcycle. In 1906, they make 50 units of their first commercial model, the Harley-Davidson strap tank.
The following year saw significant new developments, including the incorporation of the company, the expansion of the plant and the first prototype with a twin engine.
On March 21 in Las Vegas, Mecum sells a Harley-Davidson strap tank (single cylinder) made in 1907. This rare machine is in excellent original condition after being held until 1993 by the son of its first owner. It is estimated $ 800K, lot S62.
1908 Prince Heinrich and Speed King
2017 SOLD for $ 1.87M including premium
The Prinz-Heinrich-Fahrt is a stage race on German roads including a few hill climbs. The competition takes place over three consecutive years, 1908 to 1910, for a total of about 6000 Km. The trophy awarded to the winner at the completion of these three events is a silver model car weighing 13.5 Kg offered by the prince.
A Benz 50 hp wins the first of these rallies in 1908. It is a very good advertising for the brand that decides to launch a model of touring car under the name Prinz-Heinrich-Wagen with a considerably increased power which allows to reach 130 km/h.
A Benz 75/105 hp Prinz-Heinrich is for sale by Bonhams on November 11 in the house sale of the Bothwell collection near Los Angeles, lot 420 estimated $ 1M.
Built in 1908 or 1909, this car was exported to the US and frequently used by Barney Oldfield. A great fan of Benz vehicles, Oldfield was nicknamed the Speed King after driving a Blitzen-Benz at 210 Km/h at Daytona Beach in March 1910.
1908 Early Motor Sport in America
2015 SOLD for $ 1.74M including premium by Bonhams
A highly rare early Underslung car was sold for $ 1.74M including premium by Bonhams on March 12, 2015, lot 152. It entered at that time the Mann collection and passed at RM Sotheby's on August 20, 2016, lot 231. It is now estimated $ 1.2M for sale by Gooding in Pebble Beach on August 24, lot 30.
I narrated as follows before the 2016 sale its position in the history of American sports cars.
The Brass era covers those pioneering days of the American automobile when hundreds of more or less talented engineers are seeking innovative solutions for their own use or to make some wealth.
Founded in 1906 in Indianapolis, the American Motor Car Company endeavored to provide fast and powerful cars to the richest clients. A first chassis designed by Harry Stutz was still classic. Stutz quickly left that company where the technical initiative went to the chief engineer Fred Tone.
To improve the performance, Tone wants to reduce the weight and lower the center of gravity. He develops the underslung chassis whose level is lower than the axles. The direct consequence of this innovation is an enlargement of the diameter of the wheels, spectacular whatever the body type. The Underslung becomes a specialty of the company and its official trademark in 1912 just before the final bankruptcy.
The high-end underslung is equipped with an engine of 7.8 liters for a rated power of 50 hp. One of the first cars, built in 1907, was sold for $ 1.43M including premium by Bonhams on 6 October 2014. This vehicle that anticipated the official release of the model is elegantly bodied as a roadster and is a precursor of the US sports cars.
The American Underslung 50 hp coming for sale was made in 1908. It had attracted the attention of Sam Mann by its remarkable overall condition. Its ex factory roadster bodywork brings the exuberant and rare appearance of a genuine survivor of the brass era. To keep it in operating condition, Mann fabricated new wheels.
Stutz, who had not wanted to follow the adventure of the Underslung, created in 1912 another roadster named the Bearcat which was the first real success in American sports cars along with Mercer's Raceabout.
1908 Capitalism in the Car Industry
2011 SOLD 545 K$ including premium
When automobiles began to be produced in America, some investors quickly realized that the financial stakes were considerable. The builders needed money to organize their models and their outputs. Henry Ford himself lost at a time the control of his own business, an event that gave birth to Cadillac.
The history of Ransom Olds is similar. He organized the first mass production line, but quarrels with the son of his major shareholder made him give up his factory and the brand bearing his name, Oldsmobile. Olds then created REO, which enjoyed some success.
In 1908, a new competitor seriously disturbed the dominance of Ford. General Motors was founded by William Durant as a holding company to promote the interests of Buick. One of the first acts of General Motors, on the same year, was to buy Oldsmobile. The brand will be maintained for nearly a century.
Oldsmobile which was then in serious financial trouble was considering the switch to production of luxury cars.Twenty years later, during the crisis of 1929, other American manufacturers will be caught in a similar mirage for the delight of the collectors of today.
A prototype manufactured by Oldsmobile in 1908 was rediscovered. It is estimated $ 600K, for sale by RM Auctions in Amelia Island, Florida, on March 12. It is a giant car for the time, with high wheels. It is photographed in eighth position on the article shared by Sports Car Digest.
This model was mass produced from 1910 to 1912 under the ambiguous name Limited (probably the same elitist idea as the 1 of 1000 for Winchester rifles). In addition to our prototype, only thirteen copies have survived, making this vehicle one of the most desirable from that time known as the Brass Era.
POST SALE COMMENT
Cars made before the First World War are generally difficult to sell. We must therefore be pleased with the result of this one. Sold $ 545K including premium, it is not, however, among the ten highest results of this auction.
1909 Rolls-Royce 40/50 HP
2019 SOLD for $ 1.32M including premium by RM Sotheby's
#RESULTS: This past weekend in St. Louis we presented the #GuytonCollection and achieved $11.7 million in sales! Top seller was a 1909 Rolls-Royce 40/50 HP Silver Ghost Roi des Belges in the style of Barker, selling for $1,325,000! See complete results at https://t.co/5SykMYy6BZ. pic.twitter.com/Vco3VE1Zzp— RM Sotheby's (@rmsothebys) May 6, 2019