8-9 September 2013

Mercedes Collection

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Lot 168

1905 Mercedes-Simplex 60 HP Speedster Tribute

  • Chassis no. 514
  • Engine no. 514

£200,000 - £300,000

Inline T-head four-cylinder engine, four-speed manual gearbox, solid front and rear axles with semi-elliptic leaf springs and double chain drive, and two-wheel rear drum brakes. Wheelbase: 2,945 mm

It has always been popular to replicate or re-create famous competition cars. This is quite simple for early racers because of their very basic construction: a bare chassis with a large engine, seats for the driver and mechanic, and a fuel tank (and often spare tyres) at the rear. The most famous early Mercedes is the Mercedes-Simplex that the Belgian driver Camille Jenatzy piloted to victory in the 1903 Gordon Bennett race in Ireland. This was the first international race in that country, and it was so located because racing was forbidden on British public roads.

Jenatzy’s car was a 60 HP Mercedes-Simplex, a model introduced the previous year by Daimler Motoren Gesellschaft and designed by Wilhelm Maybach. The name was derived from the slogan “comfort by means of simplicity”. The race-winning car has a 9,236-cubic centimetre engine and a wheelbase of 3,540 millimetres.

The example on offer is one enthusiast’s tribute to the Gordon Bennett car and, for that matter, all of the fire-breathing great racers of the early 20th century. It is, in many ways, reminiscent of the Mercedes that took part in the 1905 Gordon Bennett in France. In any case, it is cosmopolitan in nature, bearing a Simplex Type 10 engine that features the beautiful and desirable “ram’s horn” intake manifold. Interestingly, this engine layout originated with Mercedes, was licensed to Simplex, and was later licensed to American LaFrance, the fire apparatus manufacturer in Elmira, New York, U.S.A.

Other parts include Mercedes-like axles and, curiously, hubcaps from an American LaFrance. The fuel tank is also American, bearing the maker’s tag of Janney-Steinmetz, of Philadelphia and New York. What is known for sure is that its engine produces a loud exhaust throat that emanates out of a very large exhaust, and it is capable of garnering the attention of anyone within a half-mile radius. Screaming down the road, it looks the part of an early racer, and it is certain to offer bushels of fun to its new owner.


Please note that since publication of the catalogue, RM Auctions has learned that this speedster is solely based on an American-LaFrance chassis and engine; the estimate has thus been adjusted to £70,000-£100,000.

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