c.1904 Buckmobile Twin Cylinder 15hp Runabout
Chassis no. 244
Body no. XXXVI
Although unmarked with its maker's name, close inspection of this car and comparison with contemporary marketing materials reveals it to be a textbook example of the Buckmobile, a little known automobile maker that was based in Utica, New York.
This entity was in business from approximately 1903-1905, and was the brainchild of Albert J. Seaton. Seaton designed the car's twin cylinder engine, which was offered in either water or air cooled form, and was cast by Munson Brothers. The coachwork, a form of buckboard style only with more commodious seats than normal was built by local carriage builder Charles H. Childs, a design which its owners said provided 'ease of riding without peer'!
Buckmobile proudly presented their car at the 1903 Auto Show in New York City's Madison Square Garden, and it is said that this lead to a flood of orders. Buoyed by the interest they received Seaton and crew looked to expand quickly and within the year had moved production from 2 units a week, to one a day. It was this move, too much, too soon that curtailed the company, and by October 1904 they were forced to merge with the Black Diamond Automobile Company.
While production statements would suggest that there were more, a real estimate of total cars built is believed to be closer to 40. Of those, there are very few survivors at all, the last count being three known publicly, making them a rare find in any collection. The example offered here carries a cast bronze plaque giving it number '244', while inscribed into the body frame is the number XXXVI. Based on these, it seems quite possible that this was the thirty-sixth body that Childs had built for Seaton and therefore this was probably the thirty-sixth Buckmobile car. It should be noted that in the incubation of the automobile industry, it was not as fashionable as it is today to own the first of any car produced, as that seemingly made the buyer a 'guinea pig'. It was therefore a common trait of car builders to create the illusion of greater production than had actually happened, by having a chassis number sequence that suggested that many cars preceded the one that you were buying. It is quite possible that this is the reason that the number 244 was used.
The car's early history is not known, but from its condition and intact state it would seem that it led a relatively sheltered life. One intriguing aspect which may help with ascertaining its history is that the car wears the New York Motor Vehicle License disc, number 31874, which was actually listed to a Knox car, suggesting that perhaps the Knox and the Buckmobile came from the same source at some point. Regardless of its early days, we do know that the car has been in a Pennsylvania Collection family ownership for decades. It was ceded from father to son in 1973, where it rested until emerging from storage earlier this year. Since then it has been carefully detailed and cleaned and a successful attempt to start the car's engine was made in the Summer, however this was the extent of any re-commissioning and in order to be made usable it is certainly advised that the car be thoroughly gone through.
From comparison with the advertising materials mentioned above, it seems most likely that the car we offer here would have been built in 1904, or earlier. With a successful application to the correct authorities in the U.K. this should enable it to be used on World famed London to Brighton Veteran Car run, where with its twin cylinder motor it should prove to have good performance.