9-10 October 2014

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Lot 148

1904 Rambler Model L Canopy Tonneau

  • Chassis no. 4302

Sold for $154,000

16 bhp, 235.5 cu. in. twin-cylinder engine, five-speed Harley-Davidson manual transmission, full-elliptic suspension, and rear-wheel hydraulic drum brakes. Wheelbase: 84 in.

  • Formerly owned by Richard Teague and Henry Petronis
  • Single ownership for over 20 years
  • Subtle upgrades for reliable long-distance travel
  • VCC dated as a 1904
  • London to Brighton veteran; ideal for brass tours

As with many earlier auto manufacturers, Thomas Jeffery started out with bicycles, which were sold under the Rambler name. He built a single-cylinder car in 1897, and the following year, his son, Charles, built two more, which were considerably more sophisticated. By 1900, the Jeffreys and their Rambler automobile were on the show circuit, flaunting a prototype at Chicago in September and at the first national auto show in New York that November. The Jefferys, encouraged by positive press, sold out their bicycle business to Colonel Albert Pope and set about building a new factory at Kenosha, Wisconsin, where the production Rambler would begin coming off the lines in February 1902. With production of 1,500 cars in its first year, the company immediately became one of the top three automobile manufacturers in America.

Rambler would eventually evolve into Jeffery, which would then become Nash in 1919. Nash introduced its very own and very different Rambler in 1950, and then the company eventually became part of American Motors. American Motors’ tenured styling chief, Richard Teague, was an appreciator of the automobile’s past, particularly when it related to companies for which he had worked. Naturally, this handsome 1904 Rambler Model L was part of Mr. Teague’s well-known personal collection.

The Model L sports a 16-horsepower, twin-cylinder engine with mechanically actuated valves and dual carburetors. Its body is known as a canopy tonneau, which was a reference to its fixed surrey-style top and the tonneau-style rear seat. Passengers enter and exit through a door in the back of the seat, requiring the Rambler to be backed up to a sidewalk or entrance, which was handy in these days of muddy, rutted roads. As stepping up into the car required a skirt-sporting lady to show considerable leg, this was quite a racy body style for the 1900s.

The current owner has possessed this Rambler for over 20 years, acquiring it after ownership by well-known enthusiast Henry Petronis and upgrading it for the long tours that he has enjoyed with the Horseless Car Club of America. Hydraulic brakes have been added to the rear wheels, allowing the Rambler to be safely brought to a halt on modern roads, and a five-speed Harley-Davidson transmission was also installed to back up the original unit, which is used for reverse. As the Rambler is dated as a 1904 by the Veteran Car Club, it is eligible for the London to Brighton Veteran Car Run. In fact, it is a proven “L to E” competitor, as it completed the run successfully in 1996 with its present owner behind the wheel.

When it comes to Veteran automobiles, finding an American one that was produced before 1905 and is not only eligible for the London to Brighton but also capable of the challenge is somewhat difficult. It needs to be powerful for its age, durably constructed, and handsome in appearance, and one capable of carrying a few friends along for the ride does not hurt. This jaunty Rambler succeeds in all of the above.

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