Year of manufacture1910
Number of seats2
1910 Paige Detroit 25hp Challenger Open Roadster
Registration no. not UK registered
Chassis no. 26
Around 1909, Frederick Osgood Paige and Harry Mulford Jewett joined forces to establish the Paige Detroit Motor Company, which built cars from 1909 to 1927 to the highest engineering standards. F O Paige had been promoting a small two-passenger runabout, designed by Andrew Bachle, which was powered by an unusual three-cylinder two-stroke engine. A wealthy coal merchant, Jewett saw its commercial potential and the first Paige Detroit hit the market in December 1909. This was this Challenger Open Roadster, priced at a competitive $800.
In 1910, Fred Paige left the company and Jewett took over as president, shutting down the assembly line in order to reorganise the engineering department to build a more conventional design. In total, the company had sold around 800 vehicles in its first year. Eventually, the 'Paige Detroit' became 'Paige' and total production is said to have amounted to around 400,000 vehicles, with peak sales of 43,500 in 1923. On June 10th 1927, the Paige was sold to the Graham brothers and the merged companies reconstituted as the Graham-Paige Motors Corporation. Nowadays a Paige Detroit or Paige is a rare sight, with very few examples surviving.
The car on offer here is a very original example of the first ever Paige Detroit: a two-seat Challenger Open Roadster. It is one of only two believed remaining with the 2.2-litre three-cylinder two-stroke engine. Carrying chassis number '326', it is a very early example, built in the first year of production, while the engine carries the number '101', another indicator of an early production date.
The extent of uniqueness of the engine cannot be stressed enough. Although such an engine lay-out was not unusual in a maritime context, it was ? and is to this day ? an absolute rarity when it comes to powering a motor car. Referring to the original advertisement hereunder, '... the most perfect three-stroke two-cycle engine ever built for an automobile. Gives the same delightful, continuous, driving power as the highest grade "Six" of the four-cycle type ? only half the number of cylinders ? over a hundred less parts.'
According to documentation on file, this car was exhibited in the Ford Museum from 1930 to 1985. It was purchased from Massachusetts, USA in July 1993 by its current owner for his private museum in Belgium where the car has resided ever since. Recently resurfaced, the car was only cleared through customs earlier this year and is provided with all necessary paperwork for registration in Belgium. Please note that this vehicle has probably not run since the 1930s; however, it appears that the engine is not seized.
The car remains in very original condition, the upholstery, top, and bodywork being entirely original. The US title is on file, as well as the original purchase paperwork dating from 1993 and shipping and clearance documents issued when the car arrived in the port of Antwerp on October 13th that year. A unique opportunity to acquire a very early and rare Paige Detroit motor car in a fabulously original condition - a true collector's item.