1902/1903 White Steam Car,
Lot 168
1903/4 White Steamer 10hp Rear-entrance Tonneau Chassis no. 1598 Engine no. C1164
Sold for £117,000 (US$ 196,655) inc. premium
Lot Details
1903/4 White Steamer 10hp Rear-entrance Tonneau
Registration no. Not U.K. registered
Chassis no. 1598
Engine no. C1164


  • The two sons of Thomas H White, Windsor and Walter, shared their father’s engineering flair but perhaps found the manufacture of sewing machines in the family business in Cleveland, Ohio, a little unexciting. Their fancy was taken by the new-fangled motor car at a time when it was still not clear whether the internal combustion engine, steam engine or electric power would be the predominant force. Windsor and Walter favoured steam and their first motor car rolled out of the Cleveland works in 1900. In the New York to Buffalo Endurance Run of 1901 the four White steam cars entered each carried off First Class Certificates, the following year four Gold Medals were won in the New York-Boston-New York event and in 1903 a White Steamer won the Gold Medal in the New York to Pittsburgh Endurance Run. The company certainly knew the value of publicity achieved from these events and business boomed. Early cars generally followed the Stanhope design dating back to the days of the horse-drawn buggy but by 1903 the White took on a more grown-up look, the engine by this time mounted up-front, a more substantial chassis altogether being provided and the Model C and D Whites of 1903/04 were generally offered with rear-entrance tonneau coachwork, although more sophisticated part-closed coachwork was an option. White’s main moment of glory was in 1905 when Webb Jay, driving ‘Whistling Billy’, set the new World Mile Speed Record at the Morris Park Track at a then almost unbelievable 73.75mph. Notable owners of White Steamers included Buffalo Bill Cody, John D Rockefeller and the U.S. Presidential Fleet.

    The Model C and Model D Whites of 1903/1904 were similar in most respects and further research prior to the sale will we hope establish which this model is. These models had a more conventional appearance, similar to a gasoline-powered car and were unlike its rival, Stanley, which made no effort to disguise the boiler beneath the bonnet. Only the silence of operation would distinguish a White from its gasoline-powered contemporaries – although the outstanding hill-climbing ability and the visible steam output was perhaps a bit of a give-away.

    This car was acquired by the Ward brothers from U.S.A. steam car aficionado, D. King, as a substantially restored car and, following that acquisition, steam exponent John Fleck in New Jersey was commissioned to get the car running. The car has been in steam but not actively driven since restoration. Cosmetic presentation is superb, the rear-entrance coachwork being liveried in grey and all chassis detail finished in black. The coachwork is furnished with deep-buttoned red leather upholstery and the car is equipped with H&B side lamps, the driver’s attention being required to air pressure control, two dashboard oilers, steam pressure gauge and a floorboard-mounted temperature gauge.

    The White Steamer is of course admirably catered for in the U.K. by the Steam Car Club of Great Britain and also the Veteran Car Club and is eminently eligible for both the London to Brighton Veteran Car Run and the ever-popular Singles and Twins rallies.

Saleroom notices

  • We are advised that this car is a Model D dating from April/May 1904