1902 Autocar 10hp Twin-Cylinder Type VIII Rear-Entrance Tonneau Registration no. BS 8584 Chassis no. 776 Engine no. 762
Autocar was founded in Ardmore, Pennsylvania in 1900 by the Clark family and William Morgan, a partnership that had already produced a handful of automobiles while trading as the Pittsburgh Motor Vehicle Company. A single-cylinder chain-driven runabout, the first Autocar was superseded for 1901 by a twin-cylinder model, which is generally credited with being the first American-built multi-cylinder motor car to have shaft drive. A 16/20hp four-cylinder model was added to the range for 1905, which was followed in 1908 by the company's first six. In 1907 Autocar had diversified into the manufacture of commercial vehicles, a venture proving so successful that by 1912 it had pulled out of the passenger car market.
An older restoration of an interesting and historic automobile, this 1902 Autocar was formerly owned by Ohio collector John Baird, who had acquired it from the Burton Upjohn Collection. It is powered by a twin-cylinder engine rated at 10hp. The body and mudguards are of timber construction and the plain leather interior is typical of light cars of this era. Lighting equipment consists of period Dietz oil sidelights and a correct-type tail lamp, while the two beautiful wicker panniers are particularly worthy of note.
In 1978 Baird sold the Autocar to fellow collector James A Conant. It had been restored prior to Conant's acquisition but was missing the rear tonneau section, which was expertly recreated by using the Autocar in the Frederick C Crawford Auto-Aviation Museum in Cleveland as a pattern. The Autocar was dated as 1902 by the Veteran Car Club of Great Britain in the early 1970s and has completed the London-Brighton Run at least twice (in 1972 and 1980). It has also received AACA National First Place recognition for the authenticity and excellence of its restoration. The car was maintained by Laidlaws Restorations in the USA and in the UK by R J Bardwell & Sons of Chelmsford, who rebuilt the engine in 1980. That same year the Autocar was displayed at the National Motor Museum, Beaulieu.
The immediately preceding owner, Harry D Arends, purchased the car, which was offered from the estate of James Conant, at the Pebble Beach auction in 2006 and used it regularly, including on tours in the Bakersfield area of California and the Pasadena Holiday Motor Excursion. Its vendor purchased the Autocar at Bonhams' 'Classic California' auction at The Petersen Automotive Museum, Los Angeles in November 2011 (Lot 344). While in his ownership the car has been maintained by Graham Drew of Birmingham, a well-known restorer of Veteran cars. Said to run well, it is reported as enjoyable to drive although somewhat counterintuitive, since the only foot controls are the two brakes. Spark and throttle adjustment, clutch, gear changing and steering are all accomplished by hand, keeping the driver busy. Its cruising speed is in the region of 25-30mph.
The Autocar is eligible for all events organised by the Veteran Car Club of Great Britain including the increasingly popular Singles and Twins events and, of course, the Bonhams London to Brighton Veteran Car Run. It is also qualifies for the USA's 'Brass Era' runs, AACA and Veteran Motor Car Club events, and single- and twin-cylinder tours with the Horseless Carriage Club. A turnkey Brighton Run car, it has an entry for this year's Run, number 157 (and the Saturday concours) and could carry its new owner to a punctual arrival at Madeira Drive. The Autocar is accompanied by extensive documentation running to three large files detailing the restoration and containing research into its history. Currently taxed, it also comes with a (copy) instruction book and V5C registration document.