1905 REO 16hp Roadster
Engine no. 1138
Pioneer automaker Ransom Eli Olds built his first gasoline-powered car in 1896. His Olds Motor Works introduced the famous Curved-Dash Oldsmobile in 1901. After clashing with company directors over future designs, Olds left Oldsmobile in January 1904. Within six months, he'd started a new company to produce a new car. Legally restrained from using the Olds name, he used his initials to create the REO Motor Car Company.
Soon after debuting the two-cylinder Reo Model A at the 1905 New York Auto Show, Ransom Olds put a smaller single-cylinder Reo, the Model B, into production. Similar in size to the sturdy and reliable Oldsmobile Curved-Dash runabout that had made Olds' reputation, the Model B was a much more modern car. The little Reo had a faux hood ahead of its dashboard (the engine was beneath the seating) and a steering wheel in place of the Curved-Dash's tiller. Single-cylinder Reos would be produced through 1910.
The 1905 Reo Model B Runabout sported a clever body with seating for two or four passengers. The rear seating folded neatly into the rear deck when not needed. Model B engine numbers ran from B701 to B1200, suggesting that no more than 499 single-cylinder 1905 Reos were built.
The offered Model B Runabout carries single cylinder engine number 1138. Its bullet-shaped brass Atwood headlamps are authentic. It is also equipped with a Rushmore searchlight, an accessory popular with adventuresome early motorists.
The Reo Model B is offered from the estate of the late Bud Ekins. A Hollywood native, Ekins was already an internationally recognized motorcycle racer by the 1950s. After opening a Triumph dealership in the early '60s, he taught a young actor named Steve McQueen how to ride competitively off-road. The enduring friendship that resulted led to a second, decades-long career as a movie and TV vehicle stuntman and stunt coordinator. Ekins performed the famous over-the-fence motorcycle jump in 1963's The Great Escape. In the 1968 film, Bullitt, Ekins doubled for McQueen in several scenes shot for the famous chase sequence.
An avid motorcycle collector and restorer, Ekins had a substantial collection of pre-WWI bikes at the time of his death in 2007. He also dabbled in antique cars, the Reo offered here being one of his acquisitions. Little is known of the Reo's past, but it is assured that the legendary Von Dutch (Kenny Howard), a custom car and bike pin-striper and artist in both metal and paint, refinished it during the period he worked with Bud Ekins at the latter's North Hollywood restoration shop.
Likely to be one of the earliest existing Reo cars, this pert single-cylinder Runabout is offered in estate condition. It is not presently operational and its mechanical condition is unknown.