The Milhous Collection

24-25 February 2012

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Lot 823

1912 Oldsmobile Limited Five-Passenger Touring

  • Chassis no. 64626

Sold for $3,300,000

60 hp, 707 cu. in. T-head inline six-cylinder engine, four-speed manual transmission, solid front axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs, live rear axle with rear three-quarter-elliptic leaf springs, and two-wheel mechanical brakes. Wheelbase: 140"

• Pebble Beach class winner

• Only known surviving 1912 Oldsmobile Limited

• Massive 60-hp six-cylinder engine and imposing unique coachwork

The Limited was the most prestigious, and perhaps aptly named, Oldsmobile of its era. Its arrival was announced in the 1910 catalog: “such a car cannot be produced rapidly, therefore a limited quantity can be built.” Based on the Model Z, the Limited rode the same 130-inch wheelbase but with a more impressive stature, due to immense 42-inch wheels. Its engine, initially the Z’s 505-cubic inch, 60-hp six, grew to 707 cubic inches the following year when the wheelbase was stretched to 138 inches. A roadster and touring car were offered, as well as a top-of-the-line limousine, at prices from $4,600 to $5,800, territory previously the province of the prestigious “Three Ps,” Packard, Peerless and Pierce-Arrow.

Artist William Harnden Foster immortalized the Limited in his painting “Setting the Pace,” in which the Olds leads the New York Central’s Twentieth Century Limited, speeding on a trackside country road. Olds Motor Works used the painting, commissioned from railroad artist Foster, in several versions over a number of years, the last showing a left-hand drive 1914 model, well after the Limited’s limited production had ceased.

Curiously, the 1911 engine, 40 percent larger than its predecessor, was rated at the same 60 bhp. Prices, however, had not been limited, now ranging from $5,000 for open models to $7,000 for the limousine, an extraordinary sum of money in those years. A new four-passenger “Tourabout” joined the open cars. The Limited returned for one final season in 1912, on an even longer 140-inch wheelbase, but Olds management had realized that sales success probably lay in less expensive cars. A new, smaller four-cylinder car, the Defender, had replaced the previous Special entry-level model, while the Autocrat, a flagship four-cylinder car introduced in 1911, continued to lead Oldsmobile production. For 1912, the Limited was even more rare with fewer than 140 built.

This Oldsmobile Limited was built in mid-1912 and reportedly delivered to Canada. As confirmed by noted Oldsmobile Limited expert Eldon Eby, the original owner, who may have been the chairman of the Canadian Pacific Railway, kept it for many years. He later donated it to a museum for display. Renowned Cleveland collector Joe Loecy purchased it, and during his stewardship the car’s first restoration was completed. Loecy sold it to Thomas W. Barrett III, from whom Ray Lutgert, of Naples, Florida, purchased it. Texas collector Gerald Rolph was the next owner before acquisition by the renowned collector Otis Chandler. Following Mr. Chandler’s passing, the Milhous Collection acquired this remarkable Limited.

This car is nothing short of stunning. Its production may have been limited, but its size is not. It stands some seven feet tall and is nearly 17 feet long. Its dark blue paint is accented with a straw pinstripe, both in excellent condition. According to Mr. Eby, the car’s coachwork is of a unique, custom five-passenger design and is original to this chassis. The seats are upholstered in brown buttoned leather, which remains in excellent condition, and the tan canvas top is of the same caliber. The rear compartment has blue carpet on the floor, while the front is a combination of blue linoleum and aluminum diamond plate. Varnished wood comprises the dashboard, which is equipped with a Jones speedometer and an Oldsmobile-logo clock, as well as oil and fuel gauges.

From the front one cannot fail to notice the immense nickeled Castle gas headlamps and Westinghouse shock absorbers. Mr. Eby’s research indicates that these Castle units are exceptionally rare and only three pairs are known to exist for 1912 Oldsmobiles, as opposed to the more prolific Solar Eclipse headlights. The car rides on 43x5 Universal tires, all in good condition. A single spare, with canvas cover, is mounted to the right running board, next to the driver.

In 2002, this Oldsmobile Limited won its class at Pebble Beach, and in 2003 it was an invited participant in the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance. The only 1912 Limited known to survive, it is sure to excel on vintage tours, long-distance rallies or simply on the show field. The opportunity to acquire such an exceptional, high-horsepower car won’t come again soon.

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

+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

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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

+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