11-12 October 2012

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Lot 270

1931 Dodge 21'6" Split Cockpit Runabout “Elgin”

  • Hull Identification No. 101

Sold for $143,000

125 hp, 298.5 cu. in. L-head inline eight-cylinder engine. Length: 21 ft. 6 in.

• Unique Dodge and Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg collaboration

• Believed fewer than 100 examples remaining

• Extensive expert restoration

John Dodge and Horace Dodge Sr. built a reputation and a fortune in the early years of the automotive business in Detroit. They were both accomplished machinists and became suppliers who could be trusted to deliver precisely manufactured parts on time. An early contract with Oldsmobile led to a relationship with Ford, which ultimately led to the establishment of the Dodge Brothers Motor Car Company in 1914. The brothers were on a roll, as they travelled to New York for the National Automobile Show on January 2, 1920.

Both brothers fell ill in New York with influenza; John died in his hotel suite on January 14. Horace Sr. recovered, though he passed later that year. While the Dodge brothers left the company in capable hands, the grieving widows accepted an offer of $146 million for the company in 1924. It was the largest single private-business cash transaction in the United States up to that time. It left the two Dodge families among the wealthiest in the United States.

Horace Elgin Dodge Jr. showed little interest or aptitude for the automobile business. He was a charming, rogue-ish young man who displayed an aptitude for drinking and attending parties late into the night. His one stated goal was to become a successful boat racer and his idol was Gar Wood. He convinced his mother to fund the Horace E. Dodge Boat Works, to build Dodge “Watercars,” which would be powered by marinized Dodge four-cylinder automobile engines and be sold like automobiles through Dodge Brothers automobile dealers. Beginning with the rather utilitarian “Watercar” model, Horace quickly realized he had neither the aptitude nor the attention span to run a company. He turned to George Crouch, a renowned naval architect, to oversee production and design the boats. This collaboration resulted in some of the most beautiful boats ever built.

Horace had the financial wherewithal to buy whatever he thought he needed, and this fact led to the collaboration between Dodge boats and Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg. Horace approached E.L. Cord to supply engines from the ACD subsidiary Lycoming. As Dodge was one of the very few entities able to pay cash, Cord agreed. The result of this collaboration is seen in this Dodge boat, which is not only powered by its original 125 horsepower Lycoming straight eight, but also features a Duesenberg steering wheel and a Cord shifter.

This boat also shows the Dodge attention to detail, with intricate hardware, including the only “hood ornament” ever incorporated into a production boat. The 21-foot 6-inch split cockpit model was unique to the Dodge lineup, in that it was a relatively small model that included all the detail and luxury of the larger, more expensive models. This particular example was treated to an extensive restoration by a very knowledgeable vintage boat collector a number of years ago and has seen little use in the intervening years. Dodge boats are considered to be the rarest of the major boat manufacturers, as they built the fewest boats in the first place; it is likely there are fewer than 100 Dodge boats in existence today.


There are a total of 51 Dodge boats listed in the Antique and Classic Boat Society directory. Of those, only five are 21’6” Split Cockpit Runabouts.

Also, please note that the trailer is included with this lot.

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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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