10-11 October 2013

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Lot 215

1904 Northern Runabout

  • Chassis no. 2181

Sold for $68,750

6½ bhp, 106 cu. in. horizontal single-cylinder engine, two-speed planetary transmission, front and rear semi-elliptic leaf-spring suspension, and rear-wheel mechanical brakes. Wheelbase: 67 in.

  • Offered from the Estate of John O’Quinn
  • “The Silent Northern”
  • Award-winning restoration
  • London to Brighton veteran

When it was introduced in 1901, the Northern had a lot going for it. It boasted the engineering expertise of Jonathan Maxwell, an automotive “boy genius,” and the business sense of Charles Brady King, who had, it could be argued, more automotive experience than anyone in Detroit. He had built the first automobile to be run on the streets of the Motor City in 1896, and he was involved in several early production efforts in the city.

The original Northern, as shown here, looked a lot like a “Curved Dash” Oldsmobile, which was no surprise, as both men had worked for R.E. Olds. However, its engineering was vastly improved, as it had a single-cylinder engine that Maxwell had developed. This engine’s trademark ease of operation and quiet running led the new automobile to be nicknamed “The Silent Northern.”

This Northern Runabout is a 1904 model with a 6½-horsepower engine. It was formerly owned by Pennsylvania enthusiast Merrell Jones, and then it was acquired by the Edwards family in 1991; the family’s personal restoration shop restored the Northern in the same year it was acquired. The car reportedly retains its original chassis and all of its original body panels and trim components, with the only “new” fittings being the black leather cape top, upholstery, and tires. Even the rubber mat fitted to the interior is said to be the original one that was installed by the factory 109 years ago. The result is one of the most original and authentic Northern automobiles in existence.

This car was awarded an AACA Junior/Senior Award in 1992, and it also won the Grand Champion Award for pre-1916 automobiles at the Old Car Festival at Greenfield Village. Dated by the Veteran Car Club as being an authentic 1904 model, it has successfully competed in the famous annual London to Brighton Veteran Car Run in England, and it would certainly be an ideal choice to return there, for participation in one of the antique car hobby’s most incredible events. It would also be a perfect choice for the HCCA and VMCCA’s One- and Two-Cylinder Tours.

Offered here from the prominent collection of John O’Quinn, this is a wonderful survivor of one of Detroit’s pioneer automobiles, and it is one that was built by some of the best and brightest of the early car industry in America.

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


+1 864 313 6844
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


+44 (0) 74 1511 4179
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


+1 203 912 7168
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


+1 415 302 2247
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


+1 617 513 0388
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


+1 954 566 2209
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


+1 519 352 4575
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


+1 310 559 4575
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


+1 717 623 1638
California, United States

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


+1 805 231 6410
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


+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
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


+1 519 352 4575
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


+44 (0) 75 0110 7447
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


+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
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


+1 519 784 9300
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


+1 310 559 4575
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


+31 653 84 19 60
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