Sun Mar 09 2014 16:17:24 GMT+0000 (Coordinated Universal Time)
Sold for $143,000 at RM's Amelia auction. 1919 Locomobile Model 48 Roadster by Merrimac. Chassis no. 16119Engine no. 12890.
85 bhp, 525 cu. in. T-head inline six-cylinder engine, four-speed manual transmission, solid front and floating rear axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs, and rear-wheel mechanical brakes. Wheelbase: 142 in.
Formerly owned by Alexander Stein and Lenny Dryer. A veteran of decades of reliable touring. CCCA Senior award winner. Only 22,700 believed actual miles
The Locomobile Model 48, introduced in 1911 and manufactured for a remarkable 18 years, was the American equivalent to the Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost. It was huge, smooth, and silent; it was built to extraordinarily high standards through the use of advanced metals and fine tolerances; and it came with a T-head six-cylinder engine that displaced 525 cubic inches. The Model 48, fitted with custom coachbuilt bodywork, was the automobile of the American aristocracy, in which Carnegies and Vanderbilts were driven.
The car shown here is unusual and desirable among surviving Model 48s, as it was built as a svelte roadster rather than a heavy tourer or limousine. It was likely personally driven by its original gentleman owner, and it was obviously well cared for during its early life, as it has a 1922-specification carburetor and an advanced 12-volt electrical system, which was installed by the factory in Bridgeport, Connecticut, that year.
At some point, however, the Locomobile fell upon hard times. The rear of its body was modified, a wrecker boom was installed, and the hearty machine was used as a tow truck! When its utility use was done, the car was moved to Levine’s, a legendary salvage yard in New Haven, Connecticut, that was known as a “treasure trove” to early enthusiasts. It was at Levine’s that the Locomobile was found in the mid-1940s by Alexander Stein.
Stein was a member of the Stein Brewing family, and his family had owned Locomobiles when they were new. His passion for the marque never subsided, and Stein became a recognized expert in the cars of Bridgeport, writing numerous articles on Locomobile for The Bulb Horn and other publications. Recognizing his Levine’s find as having only 17,000 miles, he had the bodywork restored, which included a repaint in the original color, by former employees of the original coachbuilder, Merrimac of Massachusetts.
Stein retained his prized Locomobile until 1976, when he sold it to an equally passionate enthusiast, Lenny Dryer. Dryer would keep the car for 36 years, during which time it was actively driven on numerous tours all around New England. In 1988, he entered this Locomobile in the Sport Hill Climb at Easton, Connecticut, and won, beating 11 other cars, including a Lozier, which is a testament to the power of the big T-head six.
The car has resided in the collection of its current owner, a known aficionado, for several years. It now shows 22,700 believed actual miles, with nearly 2,000 of those miles being covered, under the present ownership, in a CCCA Ohio Region tour and the 2012 Williamsburg CARavan, in which the car was awarded the Crossett Award, for the best car undertaking its first CARavan. The owner reports that this superb tour car “drives and handles like new,” and it will easily cruise at 55 mph.
After those events, the car’s wheels and running boards were sympathetically restored and its canvas top was replaced. Once those updates were made, it was awarded 98.25 points and its Senior badge at the 2013 Michigan Region Grand Classic. That achievement is all the more amazing when you consider that the car still wears the paint and interior from its Stein restoration, which is now of senior citizen age!
Accompanying the car is its full complement of original tools, which includes a set of original-equipment Rajah spark plugs, a wrench and jack, a trouble light with its original bulb and cord, and an air hose with gauge, and they are all tucked away in their original compartments, just as they were in Bridgeport back in 1919. The fuse box on the firewall has its original tongs, as well as a set of correct spare fuses alongside it.
Since men like Alexander Stein and Lenny Dryer launched the collector car hobby decades ago, Locomobiles have been preferred by connoisseurs for the same reasons that they were preferred when new: they are smooth and reliable and have wonderful power. This Model 48 Roadster, known and loved by connoisseurs and presented with everything that the knowledgeable owner wants to see, is ready for many more happy miles.