Ex-Buess Collection,1908  Rainier  Model D 40/50hp Seven-Passenger Touring Car  Chassis no. 1603

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Lot 214
1908 Rainier Model D 40/50hp Seven-Passenger Touring Car
Registration no. BF 7797 Chassis no. 1603

Sold for £ 167,900 (US$ 229,088) inc. premium
Ex-Buess Collection
1908 Rainier Model D 40/50hp Seven-Passenger Touring Car
Registration no. BF 7797
Chassis no. 1603

• Long-term California car originally owned by the Asbury family
• Part of the noted Buess Collection for more than 60 years
• Rare powerful 'Brass Era' touring car
• Known to the USA's Horseless Carriage Club since its inception
• Sole survivor of the model
• Restored between 2016 and 2021


Footnotes

  • The Rainier Car Company was founded by its namesake, John T Rainier, and began producing cars in Flushing, New York in 1905. One of many pioneering motor manufacturers of the day, Rainier preferred to focus on quality over quantity with an eye on performance. Indeed, the first 22/28hp model would prove to be an excellent all-round competition car.

    In 1907, Rainier relocated to Saginaw, Michigan to produce his fourth car, the Model D. This would prove to be his zenith as an independent, the new car being of considerable stature with a 6,759cc four-cylinder 50hp engine; a 'make and break' ignition system; and a four-speed transmission with overdrive on top gear. At prices approaching $6,000, they were affordable only by the wealthy elite, but so confident was Rainier that he marketed them as economical in one respect, offering a 'guarantee of a year's use without repair expenses'. For this price his clientele received a machine of undeniable quality that featured copious use of nickel steel, including for its pressed chassis frame.

    Its large powerful engine enabled the 40/50hp Rainier to achieve some successes in competition. Rainier driver Louis Disbrow won the 200-mile Atlanta Cup and, proving their stamina, came in 2nd in a 24-hour race at Brighton Beach in 1909, ahead of such luminaries as Ralph de Palma in a FIAT and Ralph Mulford in a Lozier.

    Rainier delivered some 300 automobiles in 1908 but ran out of cash and was declared bankrupt in November of that year. Clearly Rainier must have been on the right track as his cars caught the attention of William Durant and his General Motors Corporation, which acquired the business in May 1909 with the intent of using the brand as their top-of-the-line automobile. That venture lasted only to the end of 1911.

    The current owner purchased this rare Rainier from Bonhams' auction at the Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum in October 2015 (Lot 261). At that time the car was described as the very essence of a 'time warp' or 'barn find', having come to the market publicly for the first time in its life and with a mere handful of owners from new. As is so often the case, the few changes in ownership over the course of such a lengthy period accounted for its remarkable state of preservation.

    Its accompanying history records that the Rainier was delivered new in California to the Asbury family, owners of a noted truck and bus company in the Los Angeles area. It is said that the reason the car was laid up originally was that a half-shaft casing cracked. In the 1930s the Asburys gave the car to their chauffeur, Calvin Johnson, who, keen to get the car back on the road, replaced the rear axle with a Pierce-Arrow unit. Johnson then drove the car from his Glendale home to the second earliest meeting of the Horseless Carriage Club at Doc Shafer's ranch in San Bernardino.

    It was there that the next owner's son, arch California car sleuth and restorer, Fred Buess, first saw the Rainier with his father. They admired the car and when Johnson died in around 1947 it was put up for sale in a sealed bid auction. The Buess family acquired the Rainier for their noted collection, which included a number of such 'as found', preservation-quality, pre-WWI machines.

    The Rainier stayed with the Buess family for six decades through to the end of the 1990s, after which it was cared for by similarly enthusiastic owners. Its immediately preceding owner, a prominent collector of the finest 'Brass Era' motorcars, was similarly charmed by its condition. Throughout his ownership, the broken original axle was retained, such that today should someone wish, it almost certainly could be repaired and refitted to the car. The car is known to have been used in Buess's ownership, and in 2015 was said to have been run as recently as five years previously, although it had not been run in the then owner's hands. As shown in the accompanying history file's photographs, some initial work had begun, the radiator being rebuilt properly with a new core.

    Since acquiring the Rainier in 2015, the owner has spent a considerable sum of money and worked many hours in restoring the car, and it is now in good usable working condition and a delight to see. Missing ignition parts were sourced or re-manufactured as per original specification; the front axle has been stripped and rebuilt with new kingpins; the clutch stripped, cleaned and re-assembled; and a ring gear, battery and starter motor professionally fitted. All of this work has been done to a very high standard by a reputable car restoration company.

    The body has been repainted, and over £19,000 spent on new red leather upholstery, Wilton carpeting, a hood bag, and two inner wheelarch covers, all of which have been produced to the same pattern as the originals. The five brass lamps and brass radiator are all in as new condition, having been restored. In total, over £50,000 has been spent on the car's restoration. Although the car has not been fully road tested, we are advised that it has been recently started, run-up to temperature and briefly driven.

    The sole survivor of its type, this imposing Edwardian Rainier stands comparison with the finest European makes of the period.
Contacts
Ex-Buess Collection,1908  Rainier  Model D 40/50hp Seven-Passenger Touring Car  Chassis no. 1603
Ex-Buess Collection,1908  Rainier  Model D 40/50hp Seven-Passenger Touring Car  Chassis no. 1603
Ex-Buess Collection,1908  Rainier  Model D 40/50hp Seven-Passenger Touring Car  Chassis no. 1603
Ex-Buess Collection,1908  Rainier  Model D 40/50hp Seven-Passenger Touring Car  Chassis no. 1603
Ex-Buess Collection,1908  Rainier  Model D 40/50hp Seven-Passenger Touring Car  Chassis no. 1603
Ex-Buess Collection,1908  Rainier  Model D 40/50hp Seven-Passenger Touring Car  Chassis no. 1603
Ex-Buess Collection,1908  Rainier  Model D 40/50hp Seven-Passenger Touring Car  Chassis no. 1603
Ex-Buess Collection,1908  Rainier  Model D 40/50hp Seven-Passenger Touring Car  Chassis no. 1603
Ex-Buess Collection,1908  Rainier  Model D 40/50hp Seven-Passenger Touring Car  Chassis no. 1603
Ex-Buess Collection,1908  Rainier  Model D 40/50hp Seven-Passenger Touring Car  Chassis no. 1603
Ex-Buess Collection,1908  Rainier  Model D 40/50hp Seven-Passenger Touring Car  Chassis no. 1603
Ex-Buess Collection,1908  Rainier  Model D 40/50hp Seven-Passenger Touring Car  Chassis no. 1603
Ex-Buess Collection,1908  Rainier  Model D 40/50hp Seven-Passenger Touring Car  Chassis no. 1603
Ex-Buess Collection,1908  Rainier  Model D 40/50hp Seven-Passenger Touring Car  Chassis no. 1603
Ex-Buess Collection,1908  Rainier  Model D 40/50hp Seven-Passenger Touring Car  Chassis no. 1603
Ex-Buess Collection,1908  Rainier  Model D 40/50hp Seven-Passenger Touring Car  Chassis no. 1603
Ex-Buess Collection,1908  Rainier  Model D 40/50hp Seven-Passenger Touring Car  Chassis no. 1603
Ex-Buess Collection,1908  Rainier  Model D 40/50hp Seven-Passenger Touring Car  Chassis no. 1603
Ex-Buess Collection,1908  Rainier  Model D 40/50hp Seven-Passenger Touring Car  Chassis no. 1603
Ex-Buess Collection,1908  Rainier  Model D 40/50hp Seven-Passenger Touring Car  Chassis no. 1603
Ex-Buess Collection,1908  Rainier  Model D 40/50hp Seven-Passenger Touring Car  Chassis no. 1603
Ex-Buess Collection,1908  Rainier  Model D 40/50hp Seven-Passenger Touring Car  Chassis no. 1603
Ex-Buess Collection,1908  Rainier  Model D 40/50hp Seven-Passenger Touring Car  Chassis no. 1603
Ex-Buess Collection,1908  Rainier  Model D 40/50hp Seven-Passenger Touring Car  Chassis no. 1603
Ex-Buess Collection,1908  Rainier  Model D 40/50hp Seven-Passenger Touring Car  Chassis no. 1603
Ex-Buess Collection,1908  Rainier  Model D 40/50hp Seven-Passenger Touring Car  Chassis no. 1603
Ex-Buess Collection,1908  Rainier  Model D 40/50hp Seven-Passenger Touring Car  Chassis no. 1603
Ex-Buess Collection,1908  Rainier  Model D 40/50hp Seven-Passenger Touring Car  Chassis no. 1603
Ex-Buess Collection,1908  Rainier  Model D 40/50hp Seven-Passenger Touring Car  Chassis no. 1603
Ex-Buess Collection,1908  Rainier  Model D 40/50hp Seven-Passenger Touring Car  Chassis no. 1603
Ex-Buess Collection,1908  Rainier  Model D 40/50hp Seven-Passenger Touring Car  Chassis no. 1603
Ex-Buess Collection,1908  Rainier  Model D 40/50hp Seven-Passenger Touring Car  Chassis no. 1603
Ex-Buess Collection,1908  Rainier  Model D 40/50hp Seven-Passenger Touring Car  Chassis no. 1603
Ex-Buess Collection,1908  Rainier  Model D 40/50hp Seven-Passenger Touring Car  Chassis no. 1603
Ex-Buess Collection,1908  Rainier  Model D 40/50hp Seven-Passenger Touring Car  Chassis no. 1603
Ex-Buess Collection,1908  Rainier  Model D 40/50hp Seven-Passenger Touring Car  Chassis no. 1603
Ex-Buess Collection,1908  Rainier  Model D 40/50hp Seven-Passenger Touring Car  Chassis no. 1603
Ex-Buess Collection,1908  Rainier  Model D 40/50hp Seven-Passenger Touring Car  Chassis no. 1603
Ex-Buess Collection,1908  Rainier  Model D 40/50hp Seven-Passenger Touring Car  Chassis no. 1603
Ex-Buess Collection,1908  Rainier  Model D 40/50hp Seven-Passenger Touring Car  Chassis no. 1603
Ex-Buess Collection,1908  Rainier  Model D 40/50hp Seven-Passenger Touring Car  Chassis no. 1603
Ex-Buess Collection,1908  Rainier  Model D 40/50hp Seven-Passenger Touring Car  Chassis no. 1603
Ex-Buess Collection,1908  Rainier  Model D 40/50hp Seven-Passenger Touring Car  Chassis no. 1603
Ex-Buess Collection,1908  Rainier  Model D 40/50hp Seven-Passenger Touring Car  Chassis no. 1603
Ex-Buess Collection,1908  Rainier  Model D 40/50hp Seven-Passenger Touring Car  Chassis no. 1603
Ex-Buess Collection,1908  Rainier  Model D 40/50hp Seven-Passenger Touring Car  Chassis no. 1603
Ex-Buess Collection,1908  Rainier  Model D 40/50hp Seven-Passenger Touring Car  Chassis no. 1603
Ex-Buess Collection,1908  Rainier  Model D 40/50hp Seven-Passenger Touring Car  Chassis no. 1603
Ex-Buess Collection,1908  Rainier  Model D 40/50hp Seven-Passenger Touring Car  Chassis no. 1603
Ex-Buess Collection,1908  Rainier  Model D 40/50hp Seven-Passenger Touring Car  Chassis no. 1603
Ex-Buess Collection,1908  Rainier  Model D 40/50hp Seven-Passenger Touring Car  Chassis no. 1603
Ex-Buess Collection,1908  Rainier  Model D 40/50hp Seven-Passenger Touring Car  Chassis no. 1603
Ex-Buess Collection,1908  Rainier  Model D 40/50hp Seven-Passenger Touring Car  Chassis no. 1603
Ex-Buess Collection,1908  Rainier  Model D 40/50hp Seven-Passenger Touring Car  Chassis no. 1603
Ex-Buess Collection,1908  Rainier  Model D 40/50hp Seven-Passenger Touring Car  Chassis no. 1603
Ex-Buess Collection,1908  Rainier  Model D 40/50hp Seven-Passenger Touring Car  Chassis no. 1603
Ex-Buess Collection,1908  Rainier  Model D 40/50hp Seven-Passenger Touring Car  Chassis no. 1603
Ex-Buess Collection,1908  Rainier  Model D 40/50hp Seven-Passenger Touring Car  Chassis no. 1603
Ex-Buess Collection,1908  Rainier  Model D 40/50hp Seven-Passenger Touring Car  Chassis no. 1603
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