11-12 October 2012

Collection of Ray Carr

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Lot 247

1902 Northern Runabout

  • Chassis no. 1476

Sold for $66,000

5 hp, horizontal single-cylinder engine, two-speed planetary transmission, solid front axle and live rear axle, single longitudinal leaf spring on each side, and a mechanical transmission brake. Wheelbase: 67 in.

• Offered from the collection of Raymond H. Carr; known history from new

• Ex-William Harrah Collection

• One of eleven known to exist today

• 1994 Guinness World Record holder; oldest car coast-to-coast

• Ten-time veteran of the London to Brighton run

It was known as “The Silent Northern,” a name it earned by the quiet chuf-chuf of the 5 horsepower, single-cylinder engine that powers it. The company motto—Utility is the Basis of Beauty—adorned advertising, while the company literature stated, “The Northern is built for business. While essentially a high grade gentleman’s car, it also meets the requirements of a physician’s runabout and has found great favor in the latter class. It is easily managed and is suitable for country roads as well as city streets.” Bear in mind, that the cost of a new Northern was more than 1½ times the annual wages of a factory worker!

Chassis 1476 is the 41st car built by the Northern Manufacturing Company, which began producing cars in Detroit, Michigan, in 1902. The company was formed by Charles B. King, who in 1896 built Detroit’s first successful gasoline engine, and by Jonathan D. Maxwell, who designed the engine that gave the Northern its nickname. Both King and Maxwell worked with automotive pioneer Ransom E. Olds. Maxwell later went on to produce a car bearing his own name. It is capable of a top speed of 25–30 mph and at the same time consuming gasoline at a miserly rate of 20 to 30 miles per gallon. The firm ceased production in 1908, when it became involved in a series of mergers ultimately leading to the Studebaker marque. Over 300 were sold the first year, at a cost of $800.00 each, but only eleven are known to exist today.

Despite being 110 years old, Northern number1476 is only a five-owner vehicle. Pasadena, California, dealer Ed Braley sold the car in 1902 to A.C. Mabie, located in the same city. Mabie drove it for nine years and then stored it until 1940, when he sold it to Stanley C. Vaudghe. A few years later, it was bought by Stella Claberg, of Oxnard, California, who sold it in 1956 to Bill Harrah.

Mr. Carr purchased “Chuffie” disassembled in 1986 from the renowned Harrah Automobile Collection. Layers of paint were scraped away to reveal the original color scheme of rich Carmine Red with a contrasting Valentine Red on the frame, springs, and engine, accompanied by black trim and shiny brass headlamps, tail lamps, and hub caps, which add gleaming accents. A black buggy top was also fashioned per the original, to provide protection from the weather. It was restored by D.L. George Coachworks, Ltd., in Cochranville, Pennsylvania, with the work completed just prior to its first London to Brighton run. Carr drove this vehicle on the annual English endurance classic ten consecutive times, from 1990 to 1999, completing it a total of seven times. At the age of 69, he set a Guinness World Record for driving this, the oldest vehicle, coast-to-coast from San Diego, California, to Jekyll Island, Georgia, in May 1994, a total of 2,450 miles and averaging 112 miles per day, at speeds upwards of 20 mph! The car has most recently appeared at the 2011 100 Motorcars of Radnor Hunt, as well as part of the Alternative Energy Exhibit at the AACA Museum in Hershey, Pennsylvania, during the spring of 2012, and it will continue to stun onlookers with its superlative accomplishments and history.


Please note this title is in transit.

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