Ex-Leo Peters, Rick Carroll, Dr. F.M. Brunemeier and Richard King
1910 Simplex 50HP Toy Tonneau
Coachwork by Holbrook
Chassis no. 50 - 10351
600ci T-Head Inline 4-Cylinder Engine
4-Speed Transaxle and Dual Chain Drive
Front and Rear Leaf Spring Suspension
Rear Drum Brakes
*The ultimate American brass-era sports icon
*A mythic brand that has been coveted since day one
*Originally delivered as a Holbrook Toy Tonneau
*Massive engine and dual chain drive
*One of the best performing cars of the brass-era
The Simplex Motorcar
Simplex has long held a reputation as the ultimate American sports car of its era. With examples being owned by just about every important collector as long as the hobby has existed, Simplex enjoys a status few other automobiles can rival. Representative of one of the most exciting periods of automotive history the Simplex fully deserves its reputation as one of the world's greatest cars.
The origins of the Simplex brand are in the Smith and Mabley Manufacturing Co. of New York. S&M was the American importer for the unrivaled Mercedes brand as well as FIAT, and CGV. With a desire to avoid the huge import tariffs that made already expensive foreign cars almost unsalable, S&M moved to produce C.G.V. cars in America. The C.G.V. exercise was a failure and S&M set about to build its own car based heavily on the Mercedes-Simplex. Producing a fine automobile using the Mercedes as a pattern, the S&M Simplex of 1904 proved moderately successful though still prohibitively expensive.
The S&M operation changed hands and a new plan was conceived. A more powerful and refined version of the S&M would be developed again along Mercedes lines but with a larger engine. The new model, now called just Simplex, would be powered by a T-head four cylinder with an ALAM rating of 50hp. At 600ci it was one of the largest four cylinder engines ever to power a production automobile. The massive new motor was fitted to a robust dual-chain-drive chassis with a four-speed selective transaxle.
The brutish motor combined with a superb chassis and four tall gears resulted in a performance machine with few rivals. The Simplex proved successful on the track and became the plaything of the ultra-wealthy in America. The 50hp would prove a success with nearly 250 examples produced over its nearly decade long production run - not bad for a chassis costing nearly $6,000 in 1910.
Simplex's performance would immediately cement its reputation as a sporting icon; no car exuded strength, speed and masculinity more than the Simplex. Some would argue a Mercer Raceabout was the superior sports machine, but the reality is that they are machines of a different era and at half the engine capacity and with shaft drive, the Mercer does not have the features that define this more primitive era.
Simplex's mythic reputation would continue into the first days of the collector era. When the hobby began to take shape in the 1930s the Simplex again was the most desired marque. Early collectors dreamed of finding one of these great machines languishing in a barn, and Simplex cars would become prized members of some of the major early American collections. George Waterman, Henry Austin Clark, Edgar Roy, Sam Bailey and Briggs Cunningham were a few of the pioneering collectors who owned and extensively used these automobiles.
The Motorcar Offered
Bonhams is delighted to offer here the definitive Simplex, a 1910 50 horsepower Toy Tonneau by Holbrook. With its sporty four-passenger body, this is the quintessential example of the marque - a true icon of a heroic era.
This Simplex is a car with known continuous history, one that has been a visible part of the collector car hobby for well over half a century. Early photos of the car show its discovery during the 1950s by Long Island resident Leo Peters. Like many powerful cars of the era it had been modified to serve a commercial role after the war, and a small tow arm had been skillfully fitted to the back of the car. Fortunately, this work was carefully done and much of the original coachwork remained unaltered. The car was looked after during its commercial use and was easily restored back to its original civilian appearance.
Still in unrestored condition, the Simplex was sold in 1957 to George Gentsch of Amherst, Massachusetts for $4,000. Gentsch apparently never got around to the project, as the Simplex was again sold in 1963, still in unrestored and partially dismantled condition, to James Bragg of New York City and Woodbury, Connecticut.
Mr. Bragg then had the car fully restored by Andy Anderson in Massachusetts with technical advice from Simplex expert Edgar Roy.
By the mid-1970s, the Simplex was being offered for sale by Ed Jurist's Old Car Store in Nyack, New York, who found a new home for it with noted collector Rick Carroll. Carroll reportedly paid $60,000 for the car at the time, a huge sum in the nascent days of serious car collecting. After an appraisal by Henry Austin Clark in 1977, the car found a long-term keeper in prominent HCCA member Dr. F.M Brunemeier, who purchased the Simplex in 1978 from Carroll, assisted by Leo Gephart.
Thus began a wonderful two-decade ownership period during which the Simplex was used and toured on the West Coast extensively by Dr. Brunemeier. After Brunemeier's ownership the car passed to prominent Connecticut brass era collector Richard King in 1998. By the late 1990s, its years of enviable touring since the initial restoration were starting to show and the mighty Simplex was ready for some refreshing.
Under King's ownership the Simplex was treated to an extensive restoration. Under the direction of noted brass era restorer Stu Laidlaw the Simplex was brought up to high cosmetic standards throughout, while a great deal of attention was given to the drivetrain. The engine was fitted with a much needed electric starter and charging system, and rebuilt with the intention of making a reliable and strong performing tour car, meanwhile many small refinements were made to improve its mechanical components.
The resulting restoration returned the mighty Simplex to its original glory. The brass has been beautifully restored and the car is fitted with an original set of the highly prized Solarclypse headlamps. All of the canvas work including a full set of side curtains and top boot are present.
Having passed into its present ownership, that of a noted Simplex collector and expert, in 2004, the Simplex remains a joy to use today; it starts easily and has a thrilling sound, while its acceleration is startlingly fast with the powerful engine perfectly matched to tall, useable gears. The brakes are surprisingly effective for such a machine and the steering has been much improved over the original. On a recent test drive by a Bonhams specialist, the machine was found to be easy to drive and well mannered. The four-speed transaxle is a joy to shift, and very quickly one gets accustomed to running through the gears briskly. With an extensive history file including detailed receipts for service performed on the car over the last 40 years, this is a genuinely rare opportunity to acquire a fine Simplex touring car. One of the absolute high water marks of brass era motoring, this well-known Simplex will take pride of place in any collection, and here is the chance to add it to yours.