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1903 PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE EUROPEAN COLLECTION For Sale by AuctionBonhams are delighted to offer at our forthcoming Collectors' Motor Car Auction on Friday 3rd November at The London to Brighton Veteran Car Run Sale, New Bond Street, London, 26 veteran motor cars – plus 200 lots of automobilia. The full online catalogue can be viewed at www.bonhams.com/24123. For further images and information on this lot, please follow the link.
PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE EUROPEAN COLLECTION
C.1903 STEVENS-DURYEA MODEL L RUNABOUT
REGISTRATION NO. NOT UK REGISTERED
CHASSIS NO. 354
* Present ownership for more than 30 years
* A correct and original example of the model
* Potentially eligible for the London to Brighton
* Time-warp car
£55,000 - 65,000
€61,000 - 72,000
The J. Stevens Arms & Tool Co. of Chicopee Falls, Massachusetts got into the automobile business in 1901, offering a car designed by J. Frank Duryea—who, along with brother Charles, had produced America's first series-built automobiles in 1895. In November of that same year, Frank drove a Duryea horseless carriage to victory in the first automobile race ever held in America.
First generation Stevens-Duryea cars were produced between 1901 and 1906. Built on a 69-inch wheelbase, they were powered by a horizontally opposed 2-cylinder engine originally rated at five horsepower. The cars featured an unusual mechanism that permitted the driver to start the engine while seated, instead of by direct cranking. Steering was by tiller. After 1903, a 3-speed sliding gear transmission was used and the 1904 model, with its engine now rated at seven horsepower, boasted a new three-point engine mounting.
If one wishes to know how those cars were built when new, this incredible automobile must surely provide the key. In a lifespan of more than eleven decades, it appears to have been carefully preserved by each owner and most probably was retired from use early in its career.
A rare find this side of the Atlantic in any condition, the Stevens migrated east in the 1980s and was imported to Europe by dealer Philip de Vos. It joined the current collection in 1981. Complete with a full cape cart top, it has accessories of Dietz sidelights and a large Frankonia stands proudly at the front.
Although missing a chassis plate, in the correct fashion the car's body is stamped with the identity that the plate would have carried being 354. That number sits comfortably within known sequences of cars produced in 1903-1904 and a modest file of material with the car includes an original sales leaflet for the model again supporting its correct adherence to the original specification.
There is virtually no evidence that the car may have been run since its original days and so it must be considered in need of restoration mechanically. If attended to carefully, it could perhaps provide an event entry in the future or exhibition on a concours lawn in one of the growing number of Preservation classes around the world.