VCC Dated 1902, London-to-Brighton Run eligible
1902 Autocar Type VIII Rear-Entrance Tonneau
Chassis no. 776
Engine no. 762
Better remembered today as a manufacturer of trucks, Autocar began its career with passenger cars. Manufacture of tricycles and quadricycles began in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in 1897 under the auspices of the Pittsburgh Motor Vehicle Company. In April 1900, the company moved to nearby Ardmore and was reorganized as the Autocar Company. Perhaps 150 cars were built by the end of 1901, and in 1902 a shaft-drive car was introduced, believed to be the first multi-cylinder American car so equipped. From the beginning Autocar espoused left-hand drive, tillers at first but wheel steering by 1904, setting it apart from most cars of the day. From 1907, however, production of trucks had proved very successful, and so the automobile line was discontinued almost as soon as the 1912 models were announced.
This car is an older restoration of an interesting and historic automobile. Owned by Ohio collector John Baird, it was sold to fellow Buckeye State collector James Conant in 1978. It had been restored prior to Conant's acquisition, but was missing the rear tonneau section. Using the Autocar in the Frederick C. Crawford Auto-Aviation Museum in Cleveland as a pattern, a new tonneau was expertly crafted and fitted to the car .
The body and fenders are of wood construction, and the modestly plain leather interior is typical of light cars of its era. Period Dietz oil sidelamps and a correct-type taillamp complete the car's lighting equipment. It has received AACA National First Place recognition for its excellent and authentic restoration. In the early seventies it was dated as 1902 by the Veteran Car Club of Great Britain, and has completed the famed London to Brighton Run on numerous occasions.
The current owner purchased the car in 2006. It has been used regularly, most recently in California tours in the Bakersfield area and participated in the Pasadena Holiday Motor Excursion. The car runs well, and is enjoyable to drive, although somewhat counterintuitive, since the only foot controls are two brakes. Spark and throttle controls, clutch, gear changing and steering are all accomplished by hand, and keep the driver very busy.
The car is accompanied by extensive documentation of the restoration, construction of the tonneau and research on its history. A turn-key Brighton Run car, it is eligible for one- and two-cylinder tours, a host of horseless carriage events, and could carry its new owner to a punctual arrival at Brighton. Offered on a certificate of title.