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Lot 204: 1903 Rambler 6 1/2hp Model E Two Seater Runabout

Veteran Motor Cars, Bonhams (4 November 2005)


Thomas B Jeffery, egged on by his son Charles, entered the infant motor industry in 1897 in Chicago, Illinois, joining the throng of bicycle manufacturers exploring this new and exciting transport field. The Rambler had its first major public exhibition in Chicago in September 1900 and later that year in New York. A notable feature was tiller steering from the left side of the car and it was this model and its obvious potential which inspired a move to a larger factory in Wisconsin. Although the early cars had forward-mounted engines, Jeffery reverted to the more conventional (for America) format of mounting the engine under the seat, with tiller steering from the right-hand side, for his first major and highly successful production models. Only Oldsmobile exceeded Rambler in terms of production numbers in 1902, Rambler keenly pricing its cars at $750 and achieving production numbers in the order of 1,500 cars. The single cylinder engine produced 6 1/2hp, driving through two forward speeds and equipped with reverse gear. An early customer described his Rambler in the following terms - “It is truly a wonderful piece of mechanism. It starts immediately, runs like a jackrabbit and stops only at our will.”
This car was supplied originally to a Virginia farmer who dismantled the car to keep his daughter from driving it and then stored the car until 1956 when it was sold to Reginald Nash of Richmond, Virginia. He kept the car in unrestored condition until 1972, the car passing then to a Canadian owner who finally began restoration of this highly original and little used car in 1978. Acquired by the present enthusiast owner in 1995, restoration was completed in time for the car to be shipped to England to participate in the 1996 Centenary London to Brighton Run. The car duly completed that run with flying colours in the alotted time schedule, reflecting the painstaking restoration. In 2003, to celebrate 100 years of motor racing in the USA, this car with Wayne Stansfield (five times winner of ‘The Great American Race’) aboard, completed two demonstration laps of the Daytona 500 Race Track in Florida.
This quintessentially American Rambler is superbly presented in red livery with black lining and fenders and upholstered in deep-buttoned leather. It is equipped with brass accessories including kerosene front lamps and a bulb horn. Overall condition reflects the most careful use since restoration which included the fitting of a new radiator and transmission gears. This most capable London to Brighton runner comes with specially commissioned artwork depicting the car at the start of the 1996 run in Hyde Park and documents recording its Daytona exploits.

Estimate: £35,000 to 40,000

Lot Details
Auction Veteran Motor Cars
Bonhams, London to Brighton Veteran Car Run, 101 New Bond Street
TypeCar
Lot Number204
Estimate£35000-£40000
Outcome NOT SOLD
Hammer Price-
Hammer Price (inc premium)-
Year1903
Condition rating
Registration number
Mileage-
Chassis number2112
Engine number2112
Engine capacity (cc)
Engine - cylinders
Number of doors