1908 Pontiac 12hp High Wheel Runabout Engine no. 22
Albert G. North and Harry G. Hamilton established The Pontiac Spring & Wagon Works in Michigan in 1899 and in 1907 entered the rapidly burgeoning American motor industry with their new Pontiac highwheeler, a lightweight, buggy-style vehicle powered by a twin-cylinder, water-cooled, 12hp engine. The new Pontiac was displayed in New York City's Grand Central Palace in 1907 at the Carriage Dealers' Association Exhibition. The car featured friction transmission and final drive by double chain. It weighed in at 1,000 pounds and accommodated two people. It is thought that first orders were satisfied early in 1908 but only forty or so vehicles at the most were manufactured. Sadly Pontiac's slogan, "The car that's built to get there", proved unjustified, as it didn't!
This Pontiac is believed to be one of only three similar surviving cars. Careful inspection reveals good build quality and one can only think that competition from the bargain-priced Sears High Wheeler limited Pontiac sales.
This car was bought for the Meldonfoot Collection from a collector in Pennsylvania, the restoration having been carried out in America by respected restorers, Stoneaire Classic Cars. The car is superbly presented perhaps even better than when it left the Michigan factory in 1908. It is presented in Brunswick Green livery with fine red coachlining, red chassis detail and wheels. The car is equipped with The Neverout No.51 oil headlamps from the Rose Mfg. Co. of Philadelphia. The coachwork has black deep-buttoned upholstery and the dash panel features a brass 'buggy' rail in horse-drawn style. Electrics are by Splitdorf, right-hand steering is featured and solid tyres provide puncture-free travel. Unlike the Sears, which featured full elliptic suspension, the Pontiac has semi-elliptic springing all round.
This is one of the rarest surviving American cars of its era, superbly presented and potentially offering exciting and relatively powerful motoring, subject to the usual safety checks and gentle recommissioning following a period on museum display. At the time of cataloguing the Pontiac was not U.K. registered.