1910 Sears Model P Four Passenger Motorbuggy
Chassis no. 2321
Two-cylinder opposed L-head engine 107ci
Two-speed planetary transmission
Full elliptic springs
Rear wheel mechanical brakes
*Offered from a Private European Museum Collection
*Formerly the Property of the Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago
*Rare Highwheeler Motorbuggy model
The Sears Motorbuggy
The marketing principle was simple. Sears had a huge and trusting clientele all over America thanks to its widely circulated catalogs. This customer base trusted the company and was used to sending in orders for everything from farm implements to clothing, and later even houses. So it was a simple step to start producing its own motorcar. That vehicle was a decidedly conservative high-wheeled buggy-type conveyance designed by Alvaro S. Krotz and initially built in the factory of Colonel William H. McCurdy of Evansville, Indiana before Sears took over manufacture.
The layout couldn't have been simpler; the Sears used a basic steel frame, cart springs and wooden-spoke wheels, with hard rubber tires at all corners, a horizontally-opposed two-cylinder, 10 horsepower four-stroke engine and dual chain drive to the rear wheels. Not being a company prone to embracing fads, this car employed tiller steering. In 1910 the engine benefited from a power increase to 14 horsepower, although the wheelbase remained the same at 72-inches. Two years later, the car was quietly phased out and the tooling disposed of. Although by 1912 the Sears was seriously outdated, its demise was based on the fact that every unit sold generated a loss for the company.
The Sears Motorbuggy was sold by mail order through Sears, Roebuck and Co. catalogs during 1908-1912. Motorbuggy models ranged in price from $325 to $485, and they are the rarest and largest of all Sears models.
The Motorcar Offered
In the March 1948 edition of the Horseless Carriage Club Gazette, under the heading '25 Year Old Autos Reborn Here', an article records how the President of the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry, Major Lenox Lohr was actively sourcing collectible automobiles and rejuvenating them with his team of colleagues at the growing Museum. The featured automobile highlighting the article is this same Sears, which had clearly recently joined this collection. The following issue shows his daughter Barbara proudly exhibiting the car outside the MSI, after it had received a sympathetic restoration.
It can safely be assumed that the car remained in the collection until 2008 when Bonhams was entrusted with de-accessioning a handful of automobiles. File notes record it as actually joining the MSI in 1972, but it is quite possible that the car was in Major Lohr's personal collection, and shown there first before becoming part of the Museum collection, as other vehicles were. At the time, the Museum and Bonhams staff were able to comment that the engine was 'free' and that it appeared to be a remarkably complete and handsome example of the model. The body and seating were also generally in fair condition.
The Motorbuggy remains in much the same order from when it joined the current Private European Museum Collection at Bonhams' 2008 auction. It has a pleasing consistency and patina of its now well mellowed earlier rebuild. There have been no attempts to run it, however, and it will no doubt require recommissioning. When this is completed, with its simple construction and relatively complete chassis, the Sears could be driven and enjoyed as is or a project for the right restorer.
- Please note that the title for this vehicle is in transit.