9 March 2013
1923 Locomobile Model 48 Series VIII Sportif by Bridgeport Body Company
- Chassis no. 18345
- Engine no. 13612
Sold for $176,000
- The most desirable Locomobile body style, in exquisite original condition
- Known and documented history since new
- Pebble Beach Prewar Preservation Best in Class winner
The Locomobile Model 48 changed little between the model’s 1911 introduction and the cessation of production in 1929—one of the few luxury automobiles whose production run spanned the brass, nickel, and chrome eras. In 18 years, it changed little, with few concessions made to modernity. It was a solid, conservative, expensive, and old-fashioned automobile for solid, conservative, wealthy, old-fashioned people.
Albert M. Barnes, a partner in the prominent New York investment firm of Dillon, Read, & Company, fit the bill nicely. He must have had something of a sporty side, however, as he ordered the car offered here with the most dashing factory Locomobile body, the Sportif, a fleet four-passenger phaeton designed by J. Frank de Causse. Brass trim and grey paint were specified, as well as balloon tires on Buffalo wire wheels. Four-wheel brakes were now available, but rear wheel brakes were apparently still sufficient for Mr. Barnes. No windshield wipers were necessary either, as the car was driven only in fair weather by Mr. Barnes himself.
At a time when a Model T Ford traded for around $600, the Barnes Locomobile rang up a price of $9,900. No one can say that its original owner didn’t get his money’s worth, however, as when he passed on 29 years later, the Locomobile was still occupying space in his carriage house at Spruce Hill Farm in Mendham, New Jersey, and it was still in excellent condition.
The car was acquired from the Barnes estate, along with several other notable automobiles, by Morristown, New Jersey, Lincoln-Mercury dealer Tom Wiss. It remained largely in storage as it passed through the hands of its next three East Coast owners, eventually winding up with well-known enthusiast David Schultz in 1989. During his tenure of ownership, Schultz, with only minor mechanical work, was able to put the Model 48 back on the road. It was the first pre-1925 Locomobile to be recognized as a Full Classic by the Classic Car Club of America and was awarded top honors in the Prewar Preservation class at the prestigious Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in 2002.
Schultz passed the Locomobile to its present owners in 2004. In their care, it has continued to be recognized with awards, including those for Best Original Unrestored Car at the Hilton Head and Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance and Best in Class at the Keeneland Concours. Most importantly, in their hands, it has remained original.
The car has under 25,000 actual miles. The only major parts replaced since new are the clutch and the tires. The wheels have been refinished in black, their original color. The Locomobile wears the same paint, black leather upholstery, and tan cloth top with which it first rolled up the driveway at Spruce Hill Farm in 1923, all worn by age, not use, being intact and in altogether incredible condition given that they were applied when Warren Harding was in the White House.
All of this has been fully documented by previous owners, and the large binder of documentation—covering the life of both the Locomobile and its original owner—will pass to the new owners, as they become the ninth caretakers of Mr. Barnes’s big grey Locomobile. Looking at it, it fairly begs to leap forward and start covering its 25,000th mile in 90 years of loving, thoughtful care.
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