Columbia Veteran
Lot 140
c.1899 Columbia Motor Buggy, Chassis no. to be advised Engine no. to be advised
Sold for £11,500 (US$ 19,309) inc. premium
Lot Details
c.1899 Columbia Motor Buggy

Registration no. BS 8024
Chassis no. to be advised
Engine no. to be advised

Footnotes

  • Colonel Albert Augustus Pope established his manufacturing empire in the aftermath of the Civil War, his first major product line being bicycles. Pope's first venture into the field of powered transport occurred in the late 1890s with the electrically powered Columbia, though a few gasoline-powered cars were made also, the first of which appeared around 1899. That same year Pope merged his motor manufacturing interests with those of the Electric Vehicle Company to form the Columbia Automobile Company. Hiram P Maxim was responsible for designing the first Columbias, his place as chief engineer being taken in the early 1900s by Frederick A Law. Electrically powered models continued to make up the bulk of Columbia production – in 1904 there were 37 listed as opposed to only two gasoline cars: a 12/14hp twin-cylinder and 30/35hp four. Gradually, the market for electric cars contracted and gasoline models took over. In 1911 there were only two of the former in Columbia's range while that same year the company was offering ten gasoline-powered cars on two different chassis. By then, Columbia had been absorbed by Benjamin Briscoe's United States Motor Company, only to disappear when USMC collapsed in September 1912.

    Columbia's first gasoline model of 1899 was powered by a two-stroke engine designed by Maxim. The car shared many features with contemporary horse-drawn carriages, its large-diameter wheels being designed for the deeply rutted roads of the time. Its engine was a vertical, twin-cylinder, water-cooled two-stroke displacing 616cc, which drove the rear axle directly by chain. Of 3' 11" wheelbase, the chassis featured full elliptic springing front and rear while the solid tyres were mounted on 32" front and 34" rear wheels.

    Believed to be the only one of its type in the UK, this rare early American automobile was imported from Pennsylvania in the 1980s as parts. The car was assembled and got running to take part in the 1986 London-Brighton Run but has not been run since. Acquired at auction in the late 1980s, it has been on static exhibition since then at a well-known West Country theme park, from whence it has been consigned for sale.

    For the '86 London-Brighton Run the car was classified by the RAC as an 1899 Pope Columbia. However, a definitive manufacturing date has yet to be established. A certificate from the Science Museum, South Kensington states that information supplied to them suggests that the car was designed before 1st January 1905 and constructed before 31st December 1905.

    Although primitive, this is a most interesting early motorcar which, following re-commissioning, should stand a realistic chance of completing the London-Brighton Veteran Car Run.
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