1902 Baker Electric Runabout  Chassis no. 137 Y-02

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Lot 333
1902 Baker Electric Runabout
Chassis no. 137 Y-02

Sold for AU$ 34,727 (US$ 24,498) inc. premium
1902 Baker Electric Runabout
Chassis no. 137 Y-02
One of the many electric car manufacturers to emerge at the beginning of the 20th Century, the Baker Electric Motor Vehicle Company of Cleveland, Ohio was, by 1910, able to boast "More than three times as many Baker Electrics are sold each year than of any other make". Founded by Walter C.Baker, who graduated from the Case School of Applied Science in 1891, the first Baker Electric car appeared at the National Automobile Show held at Madison Square Gardens, New York City in 1900.
With petrol cars proving dirty, noisy and tiresome to crank start and steam cars having limited range and a long warm-up period, electric cars were proving extremely popular in the early 1900s, particularly in towns and cities where their limited range was less of a concern.
The earliest Baker electric models were available in two variants, the Imperial Runabout, costing $850 and the more luxurious Phaeton Stanhope. Both used a proprietary chassis with a centrally-located electric motor powered by 12-cell batteries. With two speeds, the 1902 Baker was capable of six and twelve miles per hour and the Runabout weighed just 295 kgs.
In an attempt to prove the electric car was capable of decent speeds, Walter C.Baker built a speed record car in 1902 powered by a 12 hp Elwell-Parker motor and at Staten Island in June 1902 managed to cover the mile in 47.0 mph before crashing into the crowd, killing two spectators. After setting several speed records the following year, Baker hung up the helmet and goggles and concentrated on production, becoming the biggest selling electric car by 1910.
Early customers of the Baker included Thomas Edison (his first car) and the King of Siam and examples can be found in many private collections and museums around the world today. In June 1915 Baker merged with another successful exponent of electric vehicles, Rauch & Lang, but their popularity was beginning to wane.
This particular Baker Electric Runabout was manufactured in 1902 and is an older restoration, still in good working order. Formerly part of the Kevin Rohrlach Collection in the Barossa Valley, South Australia, the Baker was initially thought to have been made in 1904 but further research concluded it was built in 1902. A period correct motor manufactured by North East Electric Company of Rochester, New York was fitted and paint work was done by George Dobie. The car was driven in the 1988 Bay to Birdwood Run and was selected as one of eleven finalists in the Concours d'Elegance judging. Proving just how usable these early electric cars are, the Baker was also driven from Nuriootpa to Tanunda and back to the Centre in the 1989 Vintage Festival float procession with Kevin's wife Shirley Rohrlach. The current owner bought the Baker around twenty years ago and has exercised the car on Veteran Car Club events from time to time.
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1902 Baker Electric Runabout  Chassis no. 137 Y-02
1902 Baker Electric Runabout  Chassis no. 137 Y-02
1902 Baker Electric Runabout  Chassis no. 137 Y-02
1902 Baker Electric Runabout  Chassis no. 137 Y-02
1902 Baker Electric Runabout  Chassis no. 137 Y-02
1902 Baker Electric Runabout  Chassis no. 137 Y-02
1902 Baker Electric Runabout  Chassis no. 137 Y-02
1902 Baker Electric Runabout  Chassis no. 137 Y-02
1902 Baker Electric Runabout  Chassis no. 137 Y-02
1902 Baker Electric Runabout  Chassis no. 137 Y-02
1902 Baker Electric Runabout  Chassis no. 137 Y-02
1902 Baker Electric Runabout  Chassis no. 137 Y-02
1902 Baker Electric Runabout  Chassis no. 137 Y-02
1902 Baker Electric Runabout  Chassis no. 137 Y-02
1902 Baker Electric Runabout  Chassis no. 137 Y-02
1902 Baker Electric Runabout  Chassis no. 137 Y-02
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