1908 REO 18/20hp Tourer
Engine no. 12120
The echoes of Ransom E. Olds footsteps as he walked away from Oldsmobile in 1904 had hardly faded before the pioneering vehicle manufacturer set about re-entering the auto business. Banned from using his surname on a new vehicle, Olds derived REO, the name for his new venture, from his initials. After having tested a prototype chassis for 2,000 miles, Olds revealed the Reo Model A at the 1905 New York Auto Show. The medium-sized car was powered by a two-cylinder engine and had a two-speed planetary transmission with chain-drive to the rear axle.
By 1907, only Buick and Ford were selling more cars than Reo, largely thanks to the popularity of the make's two-cylinder models. In size, power and price, the Reo was a direct competitor to the contemporary two-cylinder Buick. The 1907 Reo Model A Touring, with detachable rear tonneau seating, listed for $1,250. A Roadster model cost $250 less.
Two-cylinder Reo models were manufactured between 1905 and 1910. The cars were highly respected for their performance and relative reliability when new. Today, collectors prize restored examples as excellent brass-era machines for club tours.
The offered Reo Model A Touring is from the estate of the late Bud Ekins. A native of Hollywood, Ekins was an internationally renowned motorcycle racer in the 1950s. By the 1960s, he owned a Triumph dealership, where he taught a young actor named Steve McQueen how to race bikes off-road. An enduring friendship resulted, which led to a decades-long second career for Ekins as a motorcycle and car stunt rider/driver and stunt coordinator for movie and television productions. It was Ekins who performed the famous 80-foot motorcycle over-the-fence jump in 1963's The Great Escape. During the 1968 filming of Bullitt, Ekins was a stunt-double for McQueen in several key scenes shot for the movie's famous chase sequence.
In the final decades of his life, Bud Ekins became an avid motorcycle collector, specializing in pre-WWI bikes. He maintained a restoration shop in North Hollywood, where he also dabbled in antique carsthe two early Reos offered in this sale being among those he collected.
The legendary custom pin-striper and painter Von Dutch (Kenny Howard) is known to have painted the two Ekins Reos offered in this sale during the period he worked with Ekins at his North Hollywood shop. Von Dutch, who died in 1992, first found fame in the 1950s, with his intricate custom pin striping. He is also remembered for his signature "flying eyeball" artwork.
The Model A Reo is offered in estate condition. It retains its period-authentic brass Rushmore headlamps and side lamps. The car is not operational and its present mechanical condition is unknown.
- The title for this lot is in transit.