Amelia Island

9 March 2013

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Lot 111

1923 Locomobile Model 48 Series VIII Sportif by Bridgeport Body Company

  • Chassis no. 18345
  • Engine no. 13612

Sold for $176,000

95 bhp, 525 cu. in. T-head inline six-cylinder engine, four-speed manual transmission, live front and rear axles with leaf springs, and rear wheel mechanical brakes. Wheelbase: 142 in.

  • 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.

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

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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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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

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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

+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

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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

+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