From the Pierce A. Miller Carriage Collection
c. 1908 Success Model C Auto Buggy
Planetary transmission with chain drive
Original, unrestored High Wheeler
Rare survivor of a bygone era
Long-term, multi-generational ownership
The Success Auto-Buggy Manufacturing Company appropriately describes the product, an auto-buggy, not an automobile.
Founded by John C. Higdon in St. Louis, Missouri in 1906, the earliest Success buggies emulated a design Higdon had created in 1896. Essentially a buggy with a 2/3hp single cylinder engine mounted conveniently on the right side of the wooden frame and body driving the rear wheels through a chain drive mechanism, the Success high wheeler responded to the needs and the conservatism of America's rural farmers.
Built on the edge of the prairie in St. Louis, the trading center for the vast agrarian middle of the continent, high wheeled gasoline powered buggies appealed to skeptical farmers who had to negotiate deeply rutted tracks and were only just learning the appreciate the fact that a gasoline-powered vehicle didn't need feeding when she wasn't working. Success was one of the few high wheeler manufacturers to adopt the new-fangled steering wheel but put it smack in the middle of the boxy body in front of the buggy seat, just where a farmer would have sat when driving a horse. It made the transition easier and the prospect of driving something without a mane and tail a bit more familiar.
In 1907 Success augmented the side-mounted single-cylinder engine model with a more conventional horizontally opposed two-cylinder mounted below the floor boards. It drove through a planetary gearbox to a double chain drive to the rear wheels. Engines were rated 10hp in 1907 and 12hp in 1908 and 1909. In keeping with its buggy character, the Success even retained a center-pivot front axle for steering.
The Success company disappeared after 1909, not so coincidentally the year in which Henry Ford began building the Model T.
This Success is a 1908 or 1909 Model C with an opposed twin-cylinder engine. It has been part of the Miller Carriage Collection for years and is largely original and unrestored. The wood body and frame are sound and the upholstery on the buckboard seat and dashboard appears to be original. There is no equipment as such, just a pair of kerosene side lights for illumination when the moon wasn't bright enough.
Success was determined to make its vehicles simple and well within the comprehension and mechanical skills of most competent farmers. Those attributes should make this Success Model C a straightforward restoration that will be suitable for both carriage and automobile collections. Indeed, it will be a success no matter where it is displayed.
- Please note that this vehicle is offered on a Bill of Sale.
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