World's oldest four-cylinder car to be offered at Bonhams' Quail Lodge sale

Quail Lodge Sale
16 - 17 Aug 2012
Carmel, Quail Lodge & Golf Club

A long list of 'firsts' follows one of the most historical automobiles ever brought to auction.

On August 17th in Carmel, California, an extremely rare, landmark automobile will be presented at auction by Bonhams. The 1895 Buffum 4-Cylinder Stanhope is the first Buffum automobile produced, the oldest four-cylinder car in the world, the oldest American car ever offered at auction, and the oldest gasoline-powered American car in private ownership.

Created by H.H. Buffum in Massachusetts, the Buffum autocar was a marvel of advanced engineering. Spanning a production period of just 13 years with only around 70 automobiles produced, Buffum cars were never plentiful but they were state-of-the-art. In addition to developing the very first four-cylinder vehicle, Buffum created the first catalogued production American racecar, and the world's first production V8 automobile.

This particular vehicle – the first time it has ever been offered for sale to the public – is the precursor to the pioneering Buffum legacy and therefore one of the most historic automobiles in America, if not the world.

Displayed for decades at the Princeton Auto Museum in Massachusetts (one of the first auto museums in the country) and later at the Owl's Head Transportation Museum in Maine, the car survives largely in original condition. And as one of the oldest functional cars in existence, it becomes ever more rare and unique when one considers that the number of pre-1897 American cars can be counted on one hand.

"As the world leaders in the sale of pioneering motorcars, Bonhams is delighted to offer a machine of such outright historical significance," says Mark Osborne, Bonhams' Head of Motoring. "It is our great pleasure to have been appointed to present this national treasure – the oldest American car ever offered at auction."

Seldom does an opportunity to acquire such an important piece of history arise. As the sole-surviving product of one of America's greatest automotive minds, this 19th Century motorcar is a machine of monumental importance.

This and many others cars of significance will be offered at the 2012 Bonhams Sale of Exceptional Motorcars, Motorcycles and Automobilia scheduled for Thursday and Friday, August 16th and 17th at a new, larger and much more accommodating venue on the existing Quail Lodge grounds in sunny Carmel Valley. Please note that entry to the Bonhams previews and auctions does not require a ticket to The Quail: A Motorsports Gathering.

To register to bid, order a catalogue, and to learn more about this renowned two-day annual event, visit


Bonhams, founded in 1793, is one of the world's largest auctioneers of fine art and antiques. The present company was formed by the merger in November 2001 of Bonhams & Brooks and Phillips Son & Neale. In August 2002, the company acquired Butterfields, the principal firm of auctioneers on the West Coast of America. Today, Bonhams offers more sales than any of its rivals, through two major salerooms in London: New Bond Street and Knightsbridge; and a further three in the UK regions and Scotland. Sales are also held in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Carmel, New York and Connecticut in the USA; and Germany, France, Monaco, Hong Kong and Australia. Bonhams has a worldwide network of offices and regional representatives in 25 countries offering sales advice and valuation services in 60 specialist areas. For a full listing of upcoming sales, plus details of Bonhams specialist departments go to

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