1907 Locomobile E 5 passenger,
Lot 855
Formerly the property of Henry Austin Clark, Jr.,1907 Locomobile Type E Touring Car 1322
Sold for US$ 128,000 inc. premium

Lot Details
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Formerly the property of Henry Austin Clark, Jr.
1907 Locomobile Type E Touring Car
Chassis no. 1322
Engine no. 1583
The most important marques in the history of New England’s automobile industry were Stanley and Locomobile. Although they are known for being adherents of vastly different means of propulsion – Stanley for its steam cars and Locomobile of large, luxurious gasoline automobiles – their histories are intimately and inextricably intertwined. That they ended up so different in such a short span of years is a surefire indicator of the rapid evolution of automobile design in the first decade of the 20th century and of the vicissitudes of business in those fast-moving years.

Locomobile was started when the energetic publisher of Cosmopolitan magazine, John Brisben Walker, decided he should be in the automobile business. After being rebuffed by the Stanley brothers when he offered to acquire a half interest in their company in mid-1899 he talked them, instead, into naming their own price for their fledgling company and its designs. Thinking they’d get rid of Walker then and there, the Stanleys put a $250,000 asking price on the table. Walker, to their astonishment, picked it up and left a $10,000 non-refundable deposit (half the Stanleys’ investment in the company to that time) while he went off to find someone else to put up the money.

He found Amzi Lorenzo Barber, the asphalt king, who bought half of Walker’s nascent business for a quarter million dollars, leaving Walker whole and in control of the best steam car in America. Unfortunately, as happened frequently in those days, the thrill of partnership wore off early and Barber and Walker parted ways. In the breakup Barber got the original Stanley plant in Watertown, Massachusetts which he moved a year later to a new location on the water in Bridgeport, Connecticut. He called the new enterprise Locomobile and turned out over a thousand lightweight steam runabouts by 1902 when Barber appointed his son-in-law, Samuel Davis, President and returned his attentions to his asphalt business, an endeavor which the automobiles he had helped get established would soon make a massive enterprise.

Under Davis’s guidance Locomobile continued with steam, acquiring the Victor steam car in 1902, but Davis recognized that its limitations, at least with the resources at Locomobile’s command, were fast being reached. He hired Andrew Riker as chief engineer and sent him to the Victory works to go to work in secrecy on a new model.

It wasn’t steam, it was gasoline and it was introduced in 1903. The first year’s offering included both 2- and 4-cylinder engines but Locomobile went to all 4-cylinder cars in 1904. After initially offering four different models from 20 to 45 horsepower, in 1906 Locomobile concentrated on only two, the 15/20hp Model E and the 30/35hp Model H. The company established a refined position for itself, using high quality materials, the most advanced production and manufacturing methods and intense, thorough finishing, fitting and assembly to ensure that each Locomobile was the finest possible quality.

Just two years later, in 1908, Locomobile accomplished one of the greatest victories in racing when Gene Robertson drove the 90hp, 1,032 cubic inch Locomobile special “No. 16” to victory in the wildly popular and internationally publicized Vanderbilt Cup race on Long Island. All of Pierce-Arrow’s Glidden Trophies paled in comparison with Locomobile’s success, beating in an all out competition of speed and handling over the highways, roads, streets and lanes of rural Long Island the best automobiles and drivers in the world.

In 1907 Victor Lougheed wrote of Locomobile in Cycle and Automobile Trade Journal, “The three secrets of Locomobile’s success are the use of the best materials, accurate fitting of all parts, and a rigid policy of giving some sort of finish to every surface. Add to this a consistent practice of conservatively utilizing every meritorious feature of the most advanced work in the field of automobile engineering and the high prestige the Locomobile enjoys is not difficult to understand.”

These words of unqualified praise came less than four years after Locomobile’s first internal combustion powered automobiles were introduced and a year before Robertson’s accomplishment in “No. 16”. Locomobile had done its work well and let its products establish its reputation, successfully navigating the difficult passage from steam to gasoline.

The Paine Collection’s 1907 Locomobile Type E Touring is indicative of that inherent quality. Powered by Locomobile’s smaller T-head four-cylinder engine of about 198 cubic inches, it has a sliding gear 3-speed transmission in unit with the cross-shaft for the double chain drive to the rear axle. In 1906 the Type E was rated at 15/20hp and is estimated to be 28 or more brake horsepower. Suspension is with semi-elliptical leaf springs on both front and rear axles and it has drum brakes on the rear axle only. Righthand drive, the coachwork is a side-entrance tonneau-style touring car which is not equipped with a top, top frame or windshield.

The other equipment is interesting, particularly the Sibley & Pitman “Climax” acetylene headlights with Attwood-Castle vertical canister acetylene generator. Sibley & Pitman are an unusual name in automobile lighting but were a major electrical engineering firm in New York City at this time. The large brass side lights are by Corcoran and at the back a Dietz kerosene “Dainty Tail Lamp” alerts following traffic – although at the speeds of this Locomobile few contemporary automobiles could be expected to overtake. A Rubes-style trumpet horn alerts traffic and pedestrians to the Locomobile’s approach.

The coachwork is finished in red with black accents. Flared front fenders give a sporting aspect as well as effectively protecting the occupants from the rocks and dust of the day’s rudimentary roads. The seats are upholstered in black button tufted leather.

Richard C. Paine, Jr. acquired this Locomobile in a package transaction with a Rolls-Royce in 1988. It had been formerly part of the famous collection of sugar heir Henry Austin Clark, Jr. and its condition indicates it was probably restored for Clark’s Long Island Automotive Museum in Southampton. In a 1964 article in “The Bulb Horn” Smith Hempstone Oliver makes an intriguing reference to a “4-cylinder, Type E Locomobile of 1907” in Mike Caruso’s legendary Hicksville, Long Island salvage yard. In part it relates, “This car was ultimately wheedled away from Mike by Henry Austin Clark, Jr., who completely restored the car to its original condition and now exhibits it in his famous Long Island Automotive Museum at Southampton, Long Island.” It seems unlikely that even Austie Clark would have had two 1907 Locomobile Type Es.

The paint is cracked on the bodywork’s wooden panels but has retained its luster and sparkle well. The leather is generally sound with only the abrasions, creases and wrinkles expected after fifty or so years.

Since joining the display at the Seal Cove Museum Richard Paine’s Locomobile has been cosmetically maintained but does not appear to have been driven much, if at all, and certainly not in recent years. That said, it is complete and in common with most of the Seal Cove cars has been conscientiously preserved. It even has its engine lubricating oil can clipped securely into its bracket on the firewall under the hood. Returning it to safe and enjoyable running condition should present no significant problems.

Locomobile is one of America’s most distinguished marques. Its legendary success with “No. 16” in the Vanderbilt Cup is if anything exceeded by the quality of the automobiles it built for its customers. In its day Locomobile’s customers included Vanderbilts, Wrigleys, Armours and Carnegies for whom on the finest and fastest were good enough. To meet their high standards Locomobile used only the highest quality materials and in the scrap drives of World War II each Locomobile could be counted upon to render a high yield of quality steel, gray iron, bronze and aluminum. Not many survived the war effort’s thirst for raw materials making this well preserved 1907 Type E an exceptionally rare find.
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