<b>1908 Welch Model 4-L 50HP Seven-Passenger Touring</b><br />Chassis no. 25

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Lot 249
1908 Welch Model 4-L 50HP Seven-Passenger Touring

Sold for US$ 456,000 inc. premium

Property from the Collection of Don C. Boulton

1908 Welch Model 4-L 50HP Seven-Passenger Touring
Chassis no. 25

336ci SOHC Inline 4-Cylinder Engine
50bhp
Hemispherical Combustion Chambers with Two Valves per Cylinder
3-Speed Selective-Shift Multiple-Clutch Manual Transmission
Front Semi-Elliptic Leaf Springs, Full Elliptic Rear Springs
Rear-Wheel Drum Brakes

*Offered from the Don C. Boulton Collection
*Innovative design with overhead cam and hemispherical combustion chambers
*Known history since the late 1900s; used to test the first demountable rims
*Formerly owned by legendary automotive journalist, Ralph Stein
*Featured in Mr. Stein's The American Automobile and The Treasury of Automoibles
*Wonderful older restoration by the noted Ralph Buckley
*Outstanding history file, including photographs of the car as-found
*The height of American engineering from the Brass Era


THE WELCH: A BRASS ERA HEMI

The student of automotive history knows that there are no new ideas. Long before Chrysler engineers had the idea, the engine of the Pontiac, Michigan-built Welch featured hemispherical combustion chambers – a "Hemi" ahead of its time – with its valves in small "cages" and actuated by a single overhead camshaft, driven by a vertical shaft off the crankshaft, and rocker arms to a pair of inclined valves per cylinder. There are two spark plugs per cylinder, with ignition by trembler coils for starting and by a Bosch magneto, driven by the vertical camshaft drive, once running. As historian Dean Batchelor noted, this layout was similar to the designs later used in Allison aircraft engines, Ferrari V-12s, and postwar BMW four- and six-cylinder models – all decades after Welch left the scene.

Only four of the "hemi" Welch automobiles are known to have survived and the example in Don C. Boulton's collection may well be the best-known of them all.

THE MOTORCAR OFFERED

This Welch Model 4-L has had its history traced back to the late 1900s, when it was owned by Louis H. Perlman, the company's distributor in New York City. Perlman used this car as the test bed for a new invention he had developed, a wheel rim that could be removed – or demounted – from the car to facilitate repairs and tire changes. Today Perlman is widely credited with the idea for the very first demountable rim, a feature which was tested by him on this very automobile.

The car remained in the Perlman family until 1951, when it was acquired from his nephew's estate in Montrose, New York, by two legendary early figures of the automotive hobby, Ralph Stein and Henry Austin Clark, Jr. "Austie" needs no introduction, while Stein is well-remembered as an illustrator and an author of several memorable books on early automobiles. In his book, The American Automobile, Stein noted that the car had been fitted with front doors in the Teens and the rear of its body covered by a "shroud" of metal to update its appearance, but it remained largely intact and had not moved since the mid-1920s.

Ralph Buckley, among the most respected and talented early restorers on the East Coast, proceeded to return the Welch to its original beauty for Mr. Stein, preserving the original bodywork found under the metal "shroud", installing a correct top and windshield, and carefully rebuilding the engine and drivetrain. Returned to exactly as it had been delivered in 1908, the Welch remained one of Mr. Stein's pride and joys for many years, and went on to make an appearance on the cover of another of his books, The Treasury of the Automobile.

Eventually the Welch was acquired from Stein in the early 1970s by Wayne and Carl Leonard, and then by his friend Don C. Boulton, who maintained it as one of the centerpieces of his wonderful collection. The Buckley restoration is still intact and has worn well, with a light and pleasant patina. An electric starter has been subtly mounted, for ease of operation. Accompanying are wonderful historical photos showing the car being retrieved from the Perlman barn, an original manual, photographs of the car coming out of the barn with Clark's help, Stein with the restored car, and a small cache of invoices for Buckley's restoration, as well as two spare sets of cylinder jugs. Copies of the articles from both Stein books are in the file and are recommended reading for seriously interested parties, as they go into further detail on the car's engrossing specifications and remarkable mechanical features.

This Welch is a wonderful survivor from the early days of the American collector car hobby, with history back to virtually the beginning of its life; an innovative test bed for a brilliant inventor; and an elaborate piece of engineering that is a treat to watch in operation.

Saleroom notices

  • Please note, the title for this vehicle will be in transit.
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<b>1908 Welch Model 4-L 50HP Seven-Passenger Touring</b><br />Chassis no. 25
<b>1908 Welch Model 4-L 50HP Seven-Passenger Touring</b><br />Chassis no. 25
<b>1908 Welch Model 4-L 50HP Seven-Passenger Touring</b><br />Chassis no. 25
<b>1908 Welch Model 4-L 50HP Seven-Passenger Touring</b><br />Chassis no. 25
<b>1908 Welch Model 4-L 50HP Seven-Passenger Touring</b><br />Chassis no. 25
<b>1908 Welch Model 4-L 50HP Seven-Passenger Touring</b><br />Chassis no. 25
<b>1908 Welch Model 4-L 50HP Seven-Passenger Touring</b><br />Chassis no. 25
<b>1908 Welch Model 4-L 50HP Seven-Passenger Touring</b><br />Chassis no. 25
<b>1908 Welch Model 4-L 50HP Seven-Passenger Touring</b><br />Chassis no. 25
<b>1908 Welch Model 4-L 50HP Seven-Passenger Touring</b><br />Chassis no. 25
<b>1908 Welch Model 4-L 50HP Seven-Passenger Touring</b><br />Chassis no. 25
<b>1908 Welch Model 4-L 50HP Seven-Passenger Touring</b><br />Chassis no. 25
<b>1908 Welch Model 4-L 50HP Seven-Passenger Touring</b><br />Chassis no. 25
<b>1908 Welch Model 4-L 50HP Seven-Passenger Touring</b><br />Chassis no. 25
<b>1908 Welch Model 4-L 50HP Seven-Passenger Touring</b><br />Chassis no. 25
<b>1908 Welch Model 4-L 50HP Seven-Passenger Touring</b><br />Chassis no. 25
<b>1908 Welch Model 4-L 50HP Seven-Passenger Touring</b><br />Chassis no. 25
<b>1908 Welch Model 4-L 50HP Seven-Passenger Touring</b><br />Chassis no. 25
<b>1908 Welch Model 4-L 50HP Seven-Passenger Touring</b><br />Chassis no. 25
<b>1908 Welch Model 4-L 50HP Seven-Passenger Touring</b><br />Chassis no. 25
<b>1908 Welch Model 4-L 50HP Seven-Passenger Touring</b><br />Chassis no. 25
<b>1908 Welch Model 4-L 50HP Seven-Passenger Touring</b><br />Chassis no. 25
<b>1908 Welch Model 4-L 50HP Seven-Passenger Touring</b><br />Chassis no. 25
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, number VI/1087220/1