<i>Originally delivered to noted Speedboat racer Commodore Jonathan Moore</i><br /><b>1916 Simplex Crane Model 5 Berline  </b><br />Chassis no. 2420 <br />Engine no. 2402

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Lot 323
Originally delivered to noted Speedboat racer Commodore Jonathan Moore
1916 Simplex Crane Model 5 Berline
Chassis no. 2420
Engine no. 2402

Sold for US$ 126,500 inc. premium
Originally delivered to noted Speedboat racer Commodore Jonathan Moore
1916 Simplex Crane Model 5 Berline
Chassis no. 2420
Engine no. 2402
563ci L-Head Inline 6-Cylinder Engine
110hp at 2,900bhp
4-speed Manual Transmission
Semi-elliptic leaf springs with tubular dampers
Double acting hand and foot brakes on rear wheels

*From a Private Collection
*Highly authentic, preserved example of model
*Only five previous owners
*Completed 'The Great Race' in 1986


The Simplex Crane

This remarkable automobile represents not only one of the finest statements of luxury of its day, but it also has such original integrity that nearly one hundred years later it provides visible evidence of how these quality motorcars were built first hand. The car's stately proportions would not be possible without the underpinning of a substantial mechanical aspect, the origins of which belong with the Simplex Automobile Company and with Henry Middlebrook Crane.

Crane graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1896, with degrees in mechanical and electrical engineering. He then joined the Bell Telephone Company, and later worked for their manufacturing subsidiary, the Western Electric Company. His Crane and Whitman Company of Bayonne, New Jersey, formed in 1906, evolved into the Crane Motor Car Company by 1910. In 1912, his design for the Crane Model 3 automobile was ready for production. It was a large, refined luxury car, but "production" it barely achieved, with some 37 cars built in three years.

Around this time, the Simplex Automobile Company acquired his business. Simplex, a name inextricably linked to one of the finest of all early cars, the Daimler-built Mercedes Simplex, had made its market as a consequence of the punitive tax that had been placed imported automobiles. Instead they built cars under license in the U.S. thereby obviating these fees and providing the high end market with more competitively priced FIAT, Panhard, Renault and Mercedes cars. In 1914, it had recently changed hands following the death of the patriarch Herman Broesel Sr. after a 5-6 year period in which his sons' business had enjoyed formidable success with their gargantuan 50hp T-head four-cylinder chain drive cars. One had even finished 6th at the first Indianapolis 500, despite the fact that they were more orientated toward the luxury rather than sporting end of the market.

In this era six-cylinderism was all the rage, led by Rolls-Royce with their famed Silver Ghost, and with others such as Napier and Delaunay-Belleville in the running. The fashion seemed to be moving toward a powerful, but quieter, less intimidating, and more refined motor car and the new owners of Simplex clearly felt the need for a six-cylinder engine, which Henry Crane could provide. His services were included in the transaction, and in short order the Simplex Crane Model 5 was introduced, with Crane's refined 564 cubic inch six-cylinder engine in a 144-inch wheelbase chassis. Bodies were supplied by several well-known bespoke coachbuilders, including Locke, Derham and Holbrook, but most were, like this car, by Brewster. Production continued into 1917. The cars are sometimes incorrectly called "Crane-Simplex," perhaps confused with a short-lived 1922 attempt by Henry Crane to resurrect the business at Long Island City, after the Simplex company had been brought down by the Hare's Motors debacle.

It is frequently said that there is 'no substitute for power' -- which of course the magnificent Model 5 had in abundance -- and that allowed the coachbuilders to build imposing bodies that befitted the chassis. The stature of their owner's bank balances and at the same time provided them with some of the appointments that they might have been more used to in a Pullman Railway carriage rather than a motor car. This stately Sport Berline took things to the next level, by adding some aerodynamic styling with its raked windshield. It may be difficult to believe today, but when the Berline design was unveiled at the New York Auto Show Stand in 1915, the Simplex Crane would have looked both luxurious and modern.

The Motorcar Offered

According to historian Bill Bell, the car we present is known to have been purchased new by Commander Jonathan Moore. Moore was best known for his forays in power boat racing of the day, a passion that he had inherited from his father, Harrison Bray Moore. Moore Sr. had earned his living from a freight haulage business, which among its contracts had carried rock and steel for the building of Roebling's Brooklyn Bridge.

Preempting high speed road transport, H.B. Moore indulged his wealth on powerful water vessels. He commissioned a 54 foot steam yacht 'Pampero' in 1876 and famously in 1888 challenged another yachtsman to a race from Bolton Landing to Lake George Village in the Adirondack region of upstate New York. The loser would have to fund a lavish dinner at the Fort William Henry Hotel - not his concern, for Moore's 'Pampero' won. It was this and other exercises that the family was noted for and Jonathan Moore was a worthy successor. His Liberty powered speedboat 'Falcon' would be another noted sight and competitor on the Lake George waters.

As on water he clearly enjoyed performance on land and Commander Moore would have been a perfect prospect for the Simplex Company, being a local New York City businessman. Commander Moore also undoubtedly would have been aware of the four Harmsworth Trophies awarded to speedboats powered by Crane designed engines.

The New York Public Library holds the records for Brewster coachwork which proves particularly helpful in researching these cars. Notes taken from those archives state clearly that the exterior of Mr. Moore's Simplex Crane was to be painted in 'gray oil finish', 'with silver lines', but none on the wheels. A simple 'Monogram JM in plain block letters' was to be present, and a trunk rack was ordered for the rear of the body. Its interior was to be upholstered in grey leather in the front and 'number 24 cloth' in the rear. There would be no head lining, silk curtains were provided for privacy, ashtrays in each arm rest of the rear seat, and the addition of occasional seats from the division, which itself would carry a single light glass division in two pieces and two foot cushions with straps, were specified. The highly detailed order even continues! Normally with such a car these records would serve either as the basis for interpretation for a restoration, or simply conjure a sense of what the car would have once looked like, yet with this specific example it serves more as a checklist, for almost every detail from its colors to its accessories appear to be intact.

That the car remains this way today says much about its owners and how they have cherished it. Moore himself retained it right up until 1942, no doubt protecting it from any modification or modernizing. At this point it passed to Clarence Smith of Ticonderoga, New York.

Mr. Smith kept the car for four years after which it passed into its next long-term custody, that of Frank and Pauline Snook, and in turn their son Gordon who would remain owners until 1981. The penultimate owner was Joseph Rogers of Collegetown, Pennsylvania. Testament to the mechanical condition of the car, aged 70 years old, it was driven by Rogers from Disneyland in Anaheim, California to New York City, on 'The Great Race' transcontinental rally.

In 2002 the current owner's collection was starting to develop and hold a strong theme orientation of both originality and of New York state origins. As you can imagine, he was delighted to find such an authentic example as this. As with some of the finest and most interesting cars, it is the level of detail and quality of build as well as the car's condition which provide continual reward for its owner. Amazing features on this extend to features such as a company Chauffeur's badge which it still retains from its earliest days. It continues to be in eminently usable driving condition.

With the growing appreciation for unmolested, surviving motorcars, and with them a number of Concours d'Elegance classes drawing attention to such cars, this Simplex Crane is certain to be a welcome entry at even the highest level of these gatherings.

Saleroom notices

  • Please note that the title for this vehicle is in transit.
Contacts
<i>Originally delivered to noted Speedboat racer Commodore Jonathan Moore</i><br /><b>1916 Simplex Crane Model 5 Berline  </b><br />Chassis no. 2420 <br />Engine no. 2402
<i>Originally delivered to noted Speedboat racer Commodore Jonathan Moore</i><br /><b>1916 Simplex Crane Model 5 Berline  </b><br />Chassis no. 2420 <br />Engine no. 2402
<i>Originally delivered to noted Speedboat racer Commodore Jonathan Moore</i><br /><b>1916 Simplex Crane Model 5 Berline  </b><br />Chassis no. 2420 <br />Engine no. 2402
<i>Originally delivered to noted Speedboat racer Commodore Jonathan Moore</i><br /><b>1916 Simplex Crane Model 5 Berline  </b><br />Chassis no. 2420 <br />Engine no. 2402
<i>Originally delivered to noted Speedboat racer Commodore Jonathan Moore</i><br /><b>1916 Simplex Crane Model 5 Berline  </b><br />Chassis no. 2420 <br />Engine no. 2402
<i>Originally delivered to noted Speedboat racer Commodore Jonathan Moore</i><br /><b>1916 Simplex Crane Model 5 Berline  </b><br />Chassis no. 2420 <br />Engine no. 2402
<i>Originally delivered to noted Speedboat racer Commodore Jonathan Moore</i><br /><b>1916 Simplex Crane Model 5 Berline  </b><br />Chassis no. 2420 <br />Engine no. 2402
<i>Originally delivered to noted Speedboat racer Commodore Jonathan Moore</i><br /><b>1916 Simplex Crane Model 5 Berline  </b><br />Chassis no. 2420 <br />Engine no. 2402
<i>Originally delivered to noted Speedboat racer Commodore Jonathan Moore</i><br /><b>1916 Simplex Crane Model 5 Berline  </b><br />Chassis no. 2420 <br />Engine no. 2402
<i>Originally delivered to noted Speedboat racer Commodore Jonathan Moore</i><br /><b>1916 Simplex Crane Model 5 Berline  </b><br />Chassis no. 2420 <br />Engine no. 2402
<i>Originally delivered to noted Speedboat racer Commodore Jonathan Moore</i><br /><b>1916 Simplex Crane Model 5 Berline  </b><br />Chassis no. 2420 <br />Engine no. 2402
<i>Originally delivered to noted Speedboat racer Commodore Jonathan Moore</i><br /><b>1916 Simplex Crane Model 5 Berline  </b><br />Chassis no. 2420 <br />Engine no. 2402
<i>Originally delivered to noted Speedboat racer Commodore Jonathan Moore</i><br /><b>1916 Simplex Crane Model 5 Berline  </b><br />Chassis no. 2420 <br />Engine no. 2402
<i>Originally delivered to noted Speedboat racer Commodore Jonathan Moore</i><br /><b>1916 Simplex Crane Model 5 Berline  </b><br />Chassis no. 2420 <br />Engine no. 2402
<i>Originally delivered to noted Speedboat racer Commodore Jonathan Moore</i><br /><b>1916 Simplex Crane Model 5 Berline  </b><br />Chassis no. 2420 <br />Engine no. 2402
<i>Originally delivered to noted Speedboat racer Commodore Jonathan Moore</i><br /><b>1916 Simplex Crane Model 5 Berline  </b><br />Chassis no. 2420 <br />Engine no. 2402
<i>Originally delivered to noted Speedboat racer Commodore Jonathan Moore</i><br /><b>1916 Simplex Crane Model 5 Berline  </b><br />Chassis no. 2420 <br />Engine no. 2402
<i>Originally delivered to noted Speedboat racer Commodore Jonathan Moore</i><br /><b>1916 Simplex Crane Model 5 Berline  </b><br />Chassis no. 2420 <br />Engine no. 2402
<i>Originally delivered to noted Speedboat racer Commodore Jonathan Moore</i><br /><b>1916 Simplex Crane Model 5 Berline  </b><br />Chassis no. 2420 <br />Engine no. 2402
<i>Originally delivered to noted Speedboat racer Commodore Jonathan Moore</i><br /><b>1916 Simplex Crane Model 5 Berline  </b><br />Chassis no. 2420 <br />Engine no. 2402
<i>Originally delivered to noted Speedboat racer Commodore Jonathan Moore</i><br /><b>1916 Simplex Crane Model 5 Berline  </b><br />Chassis no. 2420 <br />Engine no. 2402
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