1925 Locomobile Model 48 Sportif
Chassis no. 19131
Engine no. 19139
525ci Side-Valve Inline 6-Cylinder Engine
4-Speed Manual Transmission
Front Semi-Elliptic Leaf Springs, ¾ Elliptic Rear Springs with Floating Rear Axle
4-Wheel Drum Brakes
*Formerly in the Richard C. Paine, Jr. Collection
*One of the most exclusive and expensive cars of its day
*Highly advanced technical specification
*Recently sorted and serviced
*Largely original example of one of America's finest motorcars
The Locomobile Model 48 Sportif
Locomobile, like most other manufacturers, stumbled in the early Twenties, hit by both the post-WWI recession and the glut of military trucks which came on the market after the war, decimating sales of its Riker truck line. It fell into the hands of Hare's Motors and when that grandiose house of cards collapsed, it was acquired by Billy Durant, determined to create a competitor to General Motors which had been wrested from his control by the banks. The victim of inspired mismanagement and manipulation, Locomobile entered receivership in 1929, ending the saga of one of America's earliest and best automobiles.
The Model 48 was designed by Andrew Riker and introduced in 1911. It would remain in production almost until the end of the marque's existence, yet today very few survive. Of undoubted quality and construction, some maintain that the Model 48's low survival rate was due to the quality materials lavished upon it. Old Locomobile 48s were simply too valuable as scrap to be preserved as old automobiles.
The centerpiece of Riker's Locomobile 48 was its 6-cylinder engine, a massive affair with bore and stroke dimensions of 4½" x 5½". The iron T-head cylinders were cast in pairs and bolted to a bronze crankcase, which contained a drop-forged alloy steel crankshaft that was both statically and dynamically balanced and rode in seven main bearings. An aluminum intake manifold mated up with a bronze-bodied carburetor while the gearbox casing was cast in manganese bronze. The exhaust valves were chrome-cobalt steel. Coil and battery ignition ignite dual ignition through a pair of 6-cylinder distributors.
The Locomobile Model 48's chassis members were pressed from chrome-nickel steel, then heat treated and hot-riveted together, and rode on chrome-nickel-tungsten steel leaf springs, semi-elliptical in the front and 3/4 elliptical at the back. It stood by 4-speed transmissions when all competitors had only three forward speeds. There were no shortcuts taken in the Model 48's materials, construction methods or finishes.
Although Locomobiles were regularly bodied to clients' wishes by independent coachbuilders, most designs came from Locomobile's own Custom Body Department under the direction of former Kellner designer J. Frank de Causse. Locomobile had no body building facility of its own, allowing the company to choose the best coachbuilders while specifying that the coachbuilder's nameplate not be affixed. De Causse's style was simple, individual and distinctive but also has stood the test of time to be recognized as some of the best design of the period.
The most elegant of all de Causse's designs was the "Sportif" tourer, a dual cowl design that may have been the first of its kind. Perfectly complementing the Model 48's strength and quality, it is a classic expression of restrained elegance. Its style, quality, performance and reliability explain why this magnificent automobile stayed in the Locomobile catalog for a decade and a half. Although it was continually updated and improved, it was such a fine automobile that it remained fresh and attractive to an exclusive clientele which wanted only the highest quality and cared little for passing whims of fashion. It sold for $7,400 in 1925, a price that was rivaled only by the Stevens-Duryea Model G.
The Motorcar Offered
This 1925 Locomobile Model 48 Sportif Tourer is one of few survivors of this elegant classic. It does not appear ever to have been restored, receiving only sympathetic attention to its cosmetics and mechanical maintenance consistently and as needed. Finished in olive green with black fenders, the interior upholstery and trim are black leather and it has a beige cloth top. The body-color wood spoke wheels have black wall tires. Being one of the last of its model it benefits from continuous improvement, particularly the foot-operated four-wheel drum brakes and handbrake operating on separate concentric rear wheel drums, and the 12-16 volt high voltage primary electrical system.
All Locomobiles were sold only one way, fully equipped, and this is no exception. In addition to the Bausch & Lomb drum headlights it has dual windshields with large folding wind wing panels and canvas wind skirts on the rear windshield, a folding footrest, and dual spares mounted behind a luggage shelf between the rear fenders. An accessory "Sunoco Vapor Lubricator" has been added to the engine which also has a four-note exhaust whistle. The folding windshield has a single vacuum operated wiper.
Acquired by the vendor at the Bonhams auction of the Richard C. Paine, Jr. Collection in 2008, the Locomobile has undergone extensive maintenance to prepare it for touring and shows. The radiator was rebuilt at great expense, while the fuel system was renewed, the carburetor rebuilt, and a full set of six new tires and tubes were fitted (including the dual rear-mounted spares). The clutch was also rebuilt at this time, and the car is described today as being a great running and driving example.
The Locomobile Model 48 Sportif seats only four, an exclusive, luxurious means of transport for the few with the perception to recognize and appreciate its quality and the resources to acquire them. J. Frank de Causse's Sportif coachwork has met the test of time and is recognized as one of the premier designs of the era, recalling the spirit of the "Roaring Twenties".
A sympathetically preserved, solid, presentable and rare example, it is ideal for a perceptive collector who wants a correct and usable example of the ultimate Locomobile to experience the thrill of its presence and performance. Carefully serviced and re-commissioned, this king of the road has been used very little in its present ownership, and awaits a new owner to experience its delights.