19-20 January 2012

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Lot 234

1903 Waverley Electric Surrey

  • Chassis no. 3774
  • Engine no. 1167

Sold for $110,000

Model 20a. Twin three hp DC motors with additional overload capacity of three hp each, solid front and live rear axles with semi-elliptic leaf springs, and electric brake and two-wheel mechanical brakes. Wheelbase: 70"

• Offered from the Estate of John O’Quinn

• Ex-Cedar Crossing and John McMullen Collections

• One of the most successful early electric vehicles

In 1898, the American Electric Vehicle Company of Chicago merged with the Indiana Bicycle Company in Indianapolis, Indiana, part of Colonel Albert Pope’s cycle empire. The Waverley Electric was introduced that year under the auspices of the American Bicycle Company, another of Pope’s entities. Between 1901 and 1903, the vehicles were manufactured by the Waverley Department of the International Motor Car Company. A famous early owner was none other than General Lew Wallace, the author of the epic Ben Hur.

During the Pope years, which lasted until 1908 when the Indianapolis factory was sold to a group of investors, the Waverley Electric line quickly developed from the basic Runabout, Road Wagon and Surrey into a plethora of models suited to many buyer types. Marketing was clearly aimed at lady owner-drivers, who appreciated the Waverley Electric’s many attributes including their ease of operation, reliability and readiness for use. Waverley Electric cars were featured in Ladies’ Home Journal articles, and as contemporary advertisements proclaimed, “Friends who own Electrics go around in comfort and luxury without soiling their hands, gloves, clothing and without fuss or noise.” Perhaps another 1903 advertisement said it best: “No complications. Turn on power and steer.”

Formerly owned by noted collectors from Michigan including Mr. John McMullen and the Cedar Crossing electric vehicle collection of Mr. James Cousens, this 1903 Waverley Electric Surrey is now offered from the large and diverse private collection it most recently joined in February 2008. An older but presentable restoration, it appears to be complete and correctly presented overall, with the exception of the required 40-cell, 80-volt battery arrangement, which is not present with the car. Nonetheless, it remains a fascinating example of an early electric car, the likes of which few collections around the world can claim to own.


Please note this vehicle is offered on a Bill of Sale only.

Please contact our exclusive automotive transportation partner, Reliable Carriers, for a shipping quote or any other information on the transport of this vehicle.

Alexander Weaver

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California, United States

Alexander Weaver joined RM Sotheby’s in 2011 as a Car Specialist after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

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United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a Car Specialist after more than a decade in the collector car hobby. Gradua... read more

Barney Ruprecht

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Ontario, Canada

Barney’s interest in classic cars began at an early age after being introduced to his father’s all-original 1965 Porsche 911. Barney l... read more

David Swig

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California, United States

David Swig joined RM Sotheby’s West Coast division as a Car Specialist in May 2015. David is a life-long automobile enthusi... read more

Don Rose

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United States

Don joined RM in 2006 after several years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputation as a noted... read more

Donnie Gould

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Florida, United States

Donnie Gould joined the RM team in 2002 as a partner and Car Specialist after more than two decades in the vintage automobile auction ... read more

Gord Duff

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Ontario, Canada

Gord Duff began his journey with RM Sotheby’s in 1998. Since then, he has gained an intimate knowledge of a variety of marques a... read more

Jake Auerbach

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California, United States

Jake Auerbach got his start in the automotive industry at an early age, spending his summers during high school working at a classic c... read more

Kurt Forry

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Having worked for Bonhams’ Automobilia department for over 10 years, Kurt Forry joined RM Sotheby’s with more than a decad... read more

Matt Malamut

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California, United States

A long-time car enthusiast and Southern California native, Matt studied Automotive Technology at San Diego Miramar College and complet... read more

Michael Squire

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United Kingdom

Michael Squire joined RM Sotheby’s European Division in the summer of 2016. He comes to RM with a prestigious racing background ... read more

Mike Fairbairn

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Ontario, Canada

As one of the three founding partners of RM Sotheby’s, Mike has a long-standing interest in the classic car industry. Graduating... read more

Oliver Camelin

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United Kingdom

With an extensive background in exotic sports car history and sales, a particular passion for American curves, and fluency in three la... read more

Paul Darvill

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United Kingdom

Paul Darvill joined the RM Sotheby’s European team at the beginning of 2015. Paul holds a degree in French and Politics from the... read more

Pete Fisher

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Ontario, Canada

Pete Fisher was first introduced to antique cars in high school, working for Classic Coachworks in his hometown of Blenheim, Ontario. ... read more

Shelby Myers

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California, United States

Shelby Myers grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to watch the R... read more

Tonnie Van der Velden

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United Kingdom

Tonnie Van der Velden joined RM Sotheby’s European division in September 2015 as a Car Specialist. A lifelong enthusiast, Tonnie... read more