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Lot 43

2014   |   Amelia Island Auction 2014

1909 ALCO 40 HP Runabout

SOLD $280,500

Estimate

$300,000 - $400,000

Chassis

3634018

Engine

142408

Car Highlights

One of Just 12 ALCOs Known to Exist
Sympathetically Restored
Built to an Unequalled Level of Quality
Large Displacement Dual-Chain Drive
Superb Example of a Centenarian Brass Era Automobile
Former Display at Indianapolis Hall of Fame Museum
One of the Most Highly Regarded Cars of its Era

Technical Specs

487 CID 4-Cylinder T-Head Engine
Single Updraft Carburetor
42 HP
4-Speed Manual Transmission with Double Chain Drive
Rear Wheel Drum Brakes
Solid Front Suspension with Rear Drive Axle Suspension

Saleroom Addendum

*Please note this vehicle's chassis number is 3634013, not 3634018 as stated in the catalogue. Please also note this ALCO's original town car body was reportedly replaced with its current runabout body under Mr. Webster Knight's ownership in the late 1940s or early 1950s.

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This Car

This 1909 ALCO 40 HP Runabout is now 105 years old and research has shown it to be one of as few as 12 surviving ALCO automobiles worldwide. However, this particular example is believed to be one of two or three surviving featuring the early dual-chain drive configuration, making it ultimately rare.

Although the history of this automobile is uncertain for its first 50 years of ownership, it was purchased from Mr. Curtis L. Blake of Springfield, Massachusetts, on March 24, 1961, by Anton Hulman for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum. At that time, it was obvious that the automobile had been carefully and authentically restored, and was proudly displayed for many years of the museum’s ownership. The Runabout was then acquired by its current owner in 2011; and although the restoration is over 50 years old, the car remains in superior condition. The current owner has had the ALCO serviced and freshened, including a rebuild of the A coil and the wheels. In addition, the correct Solarclipse brass headlamps have been installed.

The engine is beautifully detailed, finished in green with copper cooling lines and brass fittings. This lovely Runabout features original gauges and clock, and magnificent brass brightwork that includes the correct lantern suspended on the rear. Presented in blue-green paint with pinstriping and brass accents, it features tan leather seats with a beige canvas top, which protects the front passengers.

This automobile is considered to be one of the highest quality vehicles of its era and, equipped with dual-chain drive, it is an artifact of great historical import and a remarkable example of the automotive Brass Era. Built over a century ago, when Taft was president and the average annual wage was $512, this ALCO is a grand survivor of the formative years of automobile history. Although it has spent much of its existence in a museum, this ALCO begs to be shown and is appropriate for tours and events throughout the world. As one of just a dozen known remaining examples of the marque, its next caretaker will count himself among a very select group of peers. The Alco

The American Locomotive Company, or ALCO, was founded in 1901 by the amalgamation of eight smaller railroad companies in the Eastern US. ALCO built many of the colossal steam engines that plowed across the country and was operating full throttle by 1905, when the decision was made to diversify and expand into the automobile market.

True to their intentions, from 1905 to 1913, ALCO produced some of America’s most expensive, superior quality, reliable, and high- performance road vehicles. As a promotional boast, the company asserted that it took 19 months to build each car. To add to the marque’s mystique, it was declared that many of the components were manufactured from vanadium – an “anti-fatigue” metal that led to the ALCO catchphrase “It Stays New!”

Expense was no object and the locomotive- borne automobile was a combination of power and strength, “to give it perfect balance and fitness for conquest of all roads.” That motto came to include the race track when ALCO’s own Henry Fortune Grant drove a race- prepared ALCO to 1909 and 1910 Vanderbilt Cup victories and competed in the Indianapolis 500 in 1911.

The sticker price for an ALCO ran between $5,500 and $9,000, and when the company abruptly closed down its automobile production in 1913, it was calculated that even at these elevated prices, ALCO had lost $500 on every car it produced.