The Al Wiseman Collection

30 November-1 December 2007

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Lot 840

1930 Rauch & Lang Gasoline-Electric Sedan

Sold for $112,750


70bhp, 255 cu. in. sleeve-valve inline six-cylinder engine, General Electric gearless electric transmission, solid front axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs, live rear axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs, four-wheel mechanical drum brakes. Wheelbase: 126"

Edward Howland Robinson Green was the son of Henrietta “Hetty” Green, the world’s richest woman at her death in 1916. Her son, known as “Ned,” was a man of considerable acumen, but, unlike his mother, was a spendthrift and a fan of fancy automobiles. He had difficulty driving because of a primitive artificial leg, a consequence of her stinginess on medical care. An electric transmission, which required no shifting, seemed an ideal aid to his handicap.

Colonel Green (his title, an honorific bestowed by the Republican Party) commissioned the General Electric Company, in which he held a directorship, to build such a system for his automobile. Rauch & Lang, the Cleveland manufacturer of electric cars which had moved to Massachusetts, was chosen to adapt the GE system to a Stearns-Knight chassis. Three such cars were built, the first a roadster, the second was an enclosed brougham, but the third, this car, is externally a Stearns-Knight M6-80 sedan, its unconventional drive train hidden deep within. There were thoughts of series production, but failure of both Stearns and Rauch & Lang, at the time this car was built in 1929-30, squelched the idea. The first of Colonel Green’s cars was scrapped; the second survives as a basket case. This is the only one restored and running.

The condition of this car is as exceptional as its technical specification. Restored in the late 1980s by former owner Bobbie B. Crump, it has aged very little in the interim. The green-and-beige paint is outstanding, and the brightwork, all replated at time of restoration, looks new. The interior is done in gray cloth, also replaced at restoration, and matches the gray carpets and headliner. The door garnishes are woodgrained, and show some slight wear, whereas the wood dashboard appears original and not recently refinished.

The car runs and drives well, its sleeve valve engine exhibiting characteristic silence, the electric, gearless drive providing very smooth acceleration. The odometer shows 26,119 miles, scarcely more than reported at restoration. It was an invitational participant in the 2006 Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance, part of a display of alternative propulsion automobiles. The word “unique” has been devalued by overuse, often referring to things that are merely unusual. This car fully deserves the description, as there is not another like it in the world.

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

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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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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

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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