1908 Sharp Arrow Runabout Recreation
Engine no. 2108
393ci L-Head 4-Cylinder Engine
40 A.L.A.M. Horsepower
3-Speed Locomobile Gearbox, Shaft Drive
Front and Rear Leaf Spring Suspension
Rear Mechanical Brakes
*Faithfully recreated Brass Era sporting car
*Right hand drive
*Known in this form for more than 50 years
*Formerly owned by famed collector Richard C. Paine Jr.
*Offered from Private European Museum collection
Sharp Automobiles and the Speedster era
In the earliest days of automobile competition the drivers and their riding mechanics were epic heroes. Their vehicles were essentially unlimited in size or displacement and had no safety equipment; their occupants sat high on top of a limber frame in seats that barely kept them in the cars on curves.
The Vanderbilt Cup was the premier American motorsport venue of the day, though Savannah, Georgia's "American Grand Prize" promised competitors a purpose built road circuit and a $4,000 prize. The initial race was won by Louis Wagner driving a Fiat. The competitive cars came from European marques like Benz, Renault, Fiat and Isotta-Fraschini. American entries were production-based cars from the likes of Buick, Marquette, Chalmers, Lozier, National and Simplex.
The 1910 Grand Prize race in Savannah was scheduled for a total of just over 415 miles. The race again featured entries from Benz and Fiat with all-star drivers. Among the European specials and American modified stock cars was one American special, the Sharp Arrow of Trenton, New Jersey's William H. Sharp.
Sharp was a photographer who doubled as a driver, and with his brother Fred, he built a sparse, lean racing machine, achieving success in races around New York. Their car was built around a Continental L-head four-cylinder engine and soon its racing success led the Sharp brothers to contemplate series manufacture.
Speed demon that it was, the Sharps named their new marque "Sharp Arrow" and gave it the snappy slogan "Speed King of American Stock Cars." Some 25 Sharp Arrows were built in Trenton before a planned move to Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania - but before the move could be completed, William Sharp entered the 1910 Grand Prize race in Savannah.
He crashed during the first lap of pre-race practice, killing his mechanic instantly. Sharp died two days after. The Sharp Arrow marque died that day, with its production of Trenton-built cars being its whole history.
The Sharp Arrow is, however, celebrated as the inspiration for one of America's great sports cars, the Mercer Raceabout. Mercer Raceabouts would go on to become a champion of the open road and closed course circuits of the second decade of the century, giving an entire generation of drivers the opportunity to prove their bravery, talent and heroism.
The Motorcar Offered
This sporting Sharp Arrow Runabout is thought to be a faithful recreation of its namesake, built using mainly proprietary components from its contemporary manufacturers. The car is known to have existed in this form for more than 50 years, but attempts to establish its precise early origins have proven unsuccessful.
The car was acquired for its present European Collection ownership from the Richard C. Paine, Jr. Collection in 2007. It was purchased by Mr. Paine from W.J. and Genevieve N. Boden of Pottstown, Pennsylvania, noted pioneering collectors of the 1950s.
It is powered by a 5x5 inch L-head four-cylinder engine of 393 cubic inches, with a Stromberg carburetor and dual ignition by magneto and battery and coil. Right hand drive, it is equipped with Rushmore acetylene headlights and a cowl-mounted Rose acetylene searchlight, but does not have an acetylene generator or Prest-o-lite tank. The two seat runabout body has a pair of bucket seats, dual spare tires mounted at the rear, a luggage or tool box and a cylindrical bolster tank.
The car was restored some time prior to its Paine Collection/Seal Cove Museum display, where it received limited use. In the present ownership it has remained Museum stored and unused and will require mechanical re-commissioning. Arguably, the addition of lightweight fenders and general detailing would improve its current 'stripped for racing' look.
This recreation is a memorial to an early independent racer, special builder and competitor whose vision helped inspire one of America's most famous and important automobiles, the Mercer Raceabout. The Sharp Arrow story deserves more recognition than it has gotten and this handsome, powerful, sporting runabout has the style and performance to give renewed life to the marque.
- Please note that the title for this vehicle is in transit.