Lot 14

2013   |   Pebble Beach Auctions 2013

1920 Locomobile 48 Sportif

SOLD $176,000


$175,000 - $225,000





Car Highlights

Known History Dating to 1940 with D. Cameron Peck
Owned for Nearly 60 Years by Lindley Bothwell and Family
Superior-Quality Materials, Mechanicals, and Build Quality
Used as Charlie Chaplin’s Car in the 1992 Robert Downey Jr. Film Chaplin
Wonderfully Preserved and Mostly Original
Ideal for Nickel Tours and Events
Particularly Handsome Four- Passenger Sportif Touring Body

Technical Specs

525 CID T-Head Inline 6-Cylinder Engine
Single Ball & Ball Updraft Carburetor
95 BHP (48.6 HP N.A.C.C. Rating)
4-Speed Selective Sliding Gearbox
Rear Mechanical Drum Brakes
Solid Front Axle with Semi-Elliptical Leaf Springs
Live Rear Axle with Three-Quarter-Elliptical Leaf Springs

Saleroom Addendum

*Please note that this vehicle is titled 1923.

Register to Bid

Formerly the Property of D. Cameron Peck and Lindley Bothwell

The Locomobile Rooted at the dawn of motoring with small steam cars built to a Stanley design, Locomobile refocused on luxurious internal-combustion cars in 1903. Victory in the 1908 Vanderbilt Cup race, with George Robertson piloting “Old 16,” brought Locomobile immense fame as the first American-built car to win the prestigious event and firmly established its reputation as a manufacturer of fast, top-quality automobiles.

Locomobile’s definitive Model 48 debuted in 1911, named after its 48.6 hp N.A.C.C. power rating. Locomobile’s Model 48 was rivaled only by Pierce-Arrow’s own Model 48 during its earlier years, and it was America’s most expensive automobile until the advent of the Springfield-built Rolls-Royce in 1921. Boasting a 142" wheelbase and powered initially by a 429 cid T-head inline six with side valves, and later increased to 525 cid, Locomobile’s 48 actually developed 95 hp. While engineering, directed by A.L. Riker, was highly conventional, the Model 48 incorporated the finest materials available and metallurgical advancements. In fact, the Model 48 crankcase and transmission case are cast in solid bronze. Although reliable and durable, few Model 48s remain today, with the majority having fallen prey to conversion to other uses and wartime scrap drives.

This Car Stylistic innovation came from the pen of J. Frank de Causse, who was enticed from French coachbuilder Kellner et Fils in 1914 to head Locomobile’s in-house design department. Mr. de Causse’s handsome and low four-passenger Sportif Tourer was particularly successful on the Model 48, exemplified by this outstanding example from 1920. Known history dates back to 1940, when it was acquired by D. Cameron Peck, the renowned Chicago-area collector whose stable was noteworthy for its quality and selectivity, as well as its remarkable quantity. Mr. Peck’s many achievements include past presidencies of the AACA and VMCA, as well as being a co-founder and early president of the SCCA. Mr. Peck fastidiously photographed the car and recorded all of the important details for this Model 48, which he acquired from “a man on Lake Shore Drive in Chicago,” on a carefully prepared form. A copy of this form accompanies the car at auction, since the original is currently maintained within the D. Cameron Peck Archive at the Detroit Public Library.

In 1947, the Model 48 was acquired from Mr. Peck by Lindley Bothwell of Los Angeles, who had established his fantastic automobile collection in the 1920s. He was also a pioneering vintage racer. Following Mr. Bothwell’s passing in 1986, his wife continued to maintain the family’s working orange ranch, as well as the automobile collection, which still included this Model 48. In 1992, it was given a high-quality exterior refinish and actor Robert Downey Jr. was chauffered in the car, as he portrayed the title character in the movie Chaplin. Notably, Charlie Chaplin was a well-known and enthusiastic owner of a series of Locomobiles during his lifetime and this Model 48 sports a wonderful mascot representing Chaplin’s beloved “Little Tramp.” In 2004, the Model 48 was acquired by its current owner, a lifelong Los Angeles-area resident and friend of the Bothwells.

As offered, the Locomobile shows only an approximate 30,000 original miles, believed correct. It remains almost entirely original and unmodified, with the exception of the 1992 repaint and new top. The engine bay and dash panel remain original, and a portion of the leather upholstery remains original and in exceptional condition. Interesting features include large rear wind wings, plus dual rear spares accentuating the Model 48’s beautiful proportions and low stance. The current owner states the Model 48 continues to run and drive beautifully, confirmed by the car’s recent completion of the 300-mile Paso Robles, California Tour without any adjustments or repairs required. Wonderfully preserved, highly original, and blessed with exceptional provenance, this majestic Locomobile Model 48 Sportif stands ready as both an exceptional Nickel Era automobile and a most worthy tour entry.