1910 Mercedes 45hp 4-Seat Tourabout
Chassis no. 7686
Engine no. 10288
6,785cc T-Head 4-Cylinder Engine
45bhp at 1,100rpm
4-Speed Manual Transmission, Chain Drive
4-Wheel Semi-Elliptic Leaf Springs with Live Rear Axle
Rear Drum Brakes
*Renowned high quality automobile
*Delivered new to the U.S.
*Formerly owned by famed collector Richard C. Paine Jr.
*Offered from Private European Museum collection
*Delightful older restoration showing gentle patina
Enough has been written about Gottlieb Daimler, Wilhelm Maybach and their Mercedes automobiles to fill a book. While Karl Benz is given credit for the first series-produced internal combustion vehicle, Daimler and Maybach, demonstrated the commercial viability of the automobile and continued to refine, develop and improve it until the products of Daimler Motoren Gesellschaft were renowned throughout the world for their quality and performance.
It wasn't easy, as a rush of concepts including the first mass-produced four-cylinder engine and an inline eight-cylinder consumed Daimler's capital, forcing him to accept investors. They quickly clashed with Maybach who soon left. Within a year even Daimler abandoned his eponymous company but the two were persuaded to return three years later, along with Paul and Adolf Daimler, Gottlieb's sons, who gradually took over his responsibilities.
Maybach continued to be the designer and innovator, largely responsible for the introduction of the Mercedes in 1901. Only a year later the prolific Maybach introduced a redesigned series of Mercedes cars which were named Mercedes-Simplex to highlight their improvements, primarily a much lighter engine and improved cooling which also reduced weight and complexity. The Mercedes-Simplex models were a great success, bringing renewed visibility to the company.
There were five models, ranging from 18/22hp to a massive 60hp behemoth. Wealthy sportsmen like Count Zborowski became customers, while in the United States no less a personage than William Kissam Vanderbilt was a notorious sight on the roads of Long Island, Newport and Massachusetts behind the wheel of his Mercedes-Simplex ("Red Devil").
As Vanderbilt's experience shows, there were wealthy Americans to whom nothing less than the largest, fastest, most luxurious automobile was sufficient, and the list of American Mercedes owners began to read like the social register. Bernard Baruch, Henry Clay Frick, Isaac Guggenheim, Harry Payne Whitney, and Colonel John Jacob Astor all counted themselves as Mercedes-Simplex owners. By 1906 Mercedes had its own showroom in Times Square where it was represented by the company's longtime agent, William Steinway of the piano-making family.
The cars were built of the finest materials, though Maybach's designs were as lightweight as possible to ensure performance superior to heavier contemporary competitors.
Powered by four-cylinder T-head engines with 4-speed manual transmissions in unit with the dif-ferential on the cross-shaft to the double rear wheel drive chains, the Mercedes-Simplexes were machines of quality, distinction and performance. In order to get the maximum benefit from the weight advantage conferred by Mercedes' thoughtful design they were frequently fitted with sparse but still luxurious coachwork.
The Motorcar Offered
According to Mercedes factory records, Car Number 7686 with engine number 10288 was shipped from their German works and arrived with the U.S. Distributor in January 1910 as a complete rolling chassis ready for coachwork. In this period, as noted above, that agent was William Steinway, whose base in the New York City area would have permitted a whole host of likely coachbuilders, such as Brewster, Holbrook, and Rothschild & Co. available for its first owner to choose from.
Subsequent records of the car's history in the US do not exist with Mercedes, but because the car is thought to have been bought by Scher on the East Coast in the late 1950s, it is quite possible that the car existed in that region of the country from new. In 1958 and 1960, Dr. Scher advertised in The Antique Automobile for a carburetor for a 1906/7 Mercedes 45 'must be original', so it seems likely that he restored this car in that era.
The Mercedes was certainly in show condition again by the mid-1960s, when Dr. Scher concluded his multi-car sale to Richard C. Paine Jr. and it is clearly listed as being part of that deal on the 41 car listing of that sale, described as "Completely restored" but without a record of AACA or other awards which go with other cars included in the transaction. It is still adorned with Dr. Scher's stylized "S" monogram.
The car remained in Paine's collection until his death in 2007 and was subsequently sold by Bonhams at our September 2008 Owls Head, Maine auction when it passed to the current owners. In this custodianship, the car has seen limited use, and occasional display, including at the Casino in Baden-Baden in Germany alongside a Mercedes Factory SS Sports Tourer.
The 1910 Mercedes 45hp Four-Seat Tourabout is a stunning example of the kind of high performance four-seat automobile preferred by sporting customers in America at the time. It is finished in beige with a maroon undercarriage and body accent and highlighted by beautiful deep tufted leather upholstery and a beige cloth top. It features Gerhardt bullseye kerosene headlights, sidelamps and taillight, dual rear spares, leather covered top frame, blackwall tires and a brass trumpet horn. To counter the urge of its 45hp engine it is provided with expanding shoe rear wheel drum brakes. It is, of course, right hand drive.
As long as this car has been known in the collector car world it has worn the stylish "Double Roadster" coachwork it wears today. This fashionable and sporty body style of the 1908-1910 period was typically reserved for the ultimate high performance machines of the day. Healey & Co., one of the favored coachbuilders for Mercedes cars, was particularly fond of the double roadster style and built many bodies for Mercedes motor show display cars. The other prominent American sporting coach builders Quimby and Holbrook also produced numerous double roadster bodies. Thomas Flyer offered a double roadster as well as Simplex; today a famous and stunning example of a Simplex double roadster survives at the Western Reserve Museum in Cleveland.
Close examination of the body reveals that the matched bucket seats are certainly period items and of high quality construction. Much of the sill work is old and likely original. The steering box angle looks unchanged from new and the gear change lever locations have not been altered. The floor boards and much of the seat riser structure looks new or largely rebuilt. Much of the bracketry on the car. particularly in the spare tire area is either old or an unusually authentic reproduction.
The fenders are simple flat panels, but distinctively flared at the front and continued horizontally straight out at the rear for a dramatic effect. The sparse coachwork makes an eloquent statement of performance and purpose and there is no doubt that this is an automobile to be reckoned with on the road.
This is an exceptional automobile of the highest quality and most refined design of the time. With 45 horsepower from its huge Mercedes-Simplex engine it will cruise effortlessly at sustained high speeds. Carefully checked over in recent times and restarted, the car is presently in running order, but should be fully recommissioned prior to touring and use. When accomplished, it will no doubt make a very enjoyable and rewarding car for tours and events. Its rarity, quality, style and patina will make it a welcome participant in shows and concours. It is a wonderful example of the restoration standards of the 1950s and early 1960s, a 45hp Mercedes that is nearly ready to be used and enjoyed with pride and confidence.
Formerly from the storied collections of Dr. Samuel Scher and Richard C. Paine, Jr., the provenance of this Mercedes is impeccable and presents a rare opportunity to share the ownership experience enjoyed by these two extraordinary collectors.
- Please note that the title for this vehicle is in transit. Additionally, the windshield glass suffered minor damage during transit.