Motor City

26 July 2014

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Lot 129

1906 Studebaker Model G Touring

  • Chassis no. 841

Sold for $275,000

30/35 hp, 280.6 cu. in. T-head four-cylinder engine, three-speed progressive manual transmission, and rear-wheel mechanical drum brakes. Wheelbase: 104 in.

  • An advanced early American automobile
  • Formerly owned by Henry Austin Clark Jr., Bill Harrah, and Bob Valpey
  • Refined T-head power and factory dual exhaust
  • Best in Class at Meadow Brook and the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance
  • A wonderful Brass Era tourer with superb performance

America’s oldest vehicle manufacturer, Studebaker, made its first foray into automobile production in 1897. Their track record for producing the highest quality horse-drawn vehicles was initially carried over into electric-powered vehicles and then gasoline-powered ones. Like most Midwestern manufacturers of their time, they started out producing smaller two-cylinder vehicles and then eventually progressed into larger, grander ones.

A flagship of the 1906 Studebaker line was the Model G, priced in the “high end” of automobiles at $4,000. It was offered with a five-passenger Roi des Belges touring car body, which had compound curves that were a significant step ahead in automotive design for the time. The Model G was perhaps the ultimate Brass Era product from South Bend, as it boasted a T-head, dual-cam, four-cylinder engine that could produce 36 horsepower. Its exhaust system was made up of four individual headers, which were muffled by an innovative factory dual exhaust that had one point at each end of the muffler. The transmission was a three-speed progressive gearbox that was produced for Studebaker by Garford, of Elyria, Ohio. Geared steering made the car’s operation surprisingly easy and agile for the time. Reportedly, a Model G was capable of cruising at speeds between 40 and 45 mph, with a higher top speed possible.

The car offered here, chassis number 841, was reportedly originally owned by a doctor in New York City. Around 1909 it passed to a retired physicist, Nathan Wheeler, of Calley College, New York. Not long after, Wheeler dubbed the car outdated for everyday use, and it was put away at his home in rural New Hampshire.

In the 1940s the Studebaker was uncovered by Henry Austin Clark Jr., one of the earliest American enthusiasts, whose collecting and historical research has become legendary. The “sleeping beauty” was in solid and complete original condition, having been well protected from the elements, and Clark did not hesitate to purchase it for his Long Island Automotive Museum. During his ownership it was restored and then reportedly utilized by Studebaker for a promotional film, which was produced in Florida in 1953.

Mr. Clark maintained the Studebaker until 1968, when it was offered for sale at Parke-Bernet’s auction at the Larz Anderson Museum in Brookline, Massachusetts. It was sold for the then-princely sum of $6,750 to Bill Harrah, for his own renowned collection in Reno, Nevada. There it remained on display until 1982, when it was purchased by Bob Valpey and returned to a stable in New Hampshire, where it had spent so many of its early years.

Mr. Valpey began the Studebaker’s restoration, which was continued in the ownership of Dr. Leo Parnagian, of Michigan, and then by the current owner after he purchased the car in 2005. After finally being returned to beautiful original condition, with an electric starter fitted for easy operation and its correct set of side curtains and top cover, it debuted that year at the Meadow Brook Concours d’Elegance, taking top honors in its class. With additional detailing, it was shown at the 2006 Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance, where it again garnered Best in Class.

Since then, the car has been regularly toured and enjoyed by its owner, who reports that it is ready for another century of enthusiastic road use. It is offered with a copy of its original sales brochure and price list; the catalogue from the 1968 Parke-Bernet Larz Anderson sale, with a color photograph of this car and a handwritten notation of its price; the inventory and sale cards from Harrah’s; and full picture documentation of its restoration.

This handsome brass tourer is reportedly the oldest existing four-cylinder Studebaker, and it has been treasured by some of the greatest names in automotive enthusiasm: Clark, Harrah, and Valpey. It is one of the few Brass Era cars that were built in the early 1900s and are still enjoyable and practical for touring use, and it will continue to be a pleasurable acquisition for its new owner.

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