6-7 October 2011

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Lot 251

1913 Argo Electric Fore-Drive Limousine

  • Chassis no. 513

Sold for $110,000

Model C. 80-volt Westinghouse DC motor, five-speed controller, shaft drive, solid front axle and live rear axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs, and two-wheel mechanical drum brakes. Wheelbase: 110"

- Believed to be the only survivor of a rare, early marque

- Unusual wheel-steered early electric

- Excellent older restoration

- Formerly in the Cousens and McMullen Collections

The Argo Electric Vehicle Company was formed in July 1910 in Saginaw, Michigan by Fred Buck, Theodore Hess and three colleagues. A latecomer to the electric car business, Argo was just in time for the golden age of the electric, which lasted from about 1910 to 1918. By this time, electric power had become available to the homes in many cities and towns, making home charging convenient and broadening the appeal of the electric.

Buck, Hess and their staff took over an old match manufacturing plant and began production that September. Prototype testing began in 1911 and advertising followed, so the official debut of the Argo did not occur until the January 1912 New York Auto Show. The initial model was a five-passenger brougham; a roadster, limousine (like this car) and several commercial models followed for 1913. Early that year the company advertised that 300 cars had been placed in “dignified and careful ownership,” but the excitement was short-lived. In 1916, the Argo company merged with fellow electric manufacturers Broc and Borland to form the American Electric Car Company, although each kept its marque identity. By 1916, however, it was all over, and Columbia Motors Company of Detroit bought the firm in order to secure its franchise in the National Automobile Chamber of Commerce, necessary to exhibit at the national shows.

Formerly in the James Cousens Cedar Crossing Collection and prior to that in the John McMullen Collection, this car is believed to be the sole surviving example of the marque. The lavishly-appointed interior has buttoned gray cord upholstery with handsome brocade borders and twisted cord nets on the headliner. There is matching carpet on the floor. The side windows have pull-down shades, and on the forward bulkhead, beside the single electrical instrument, is a Phinney-Walker keyless clock. Unusually for an electric of this era, it has wheel steering from the left front seat, an Argo hallmark.

The dark green paint is in good condition and exhibits a deep shine. The nickel brightwork, while minimal in extent, is in good condition. The car has 12-spoke wood artillery wheels, painted body color and fitted with solid rubber tires.

All but unknown among the members of the early electric automobile community, the Argo had a number of forward-looking features. This example is not only well restored and preserved, it is believed to be the only one of its kind.

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


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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

Cameron Smyth


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Ontario, Canada

Cameron Smyth joined RM Sotheby’s as a Car Specialist in 2015, working out of our corporate office and providing assistance on c... 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

Ian Kelleher


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New York, United States

Ian Kelleher began his automotive career immediately following his graduation from Oberlin College with a Bachelor of Arts in Politica... 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