Motor City

26 July 2014

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Lot 129

1906 Studebaker Model G Touring

  • Chassis no. 841

Sold for $275,000

30/35 hp, 280.6 cu. in. T-head four-cylinder engine, three-speed progressive manual transmission, and rear-wheel mechanical drum brakes. Wheelbase: 104 in.

  • An advanced early American automobile
  • Formerly owned by Henry Austin Clark Jr., Bill Harrah, and Bob Valpey
  • Refined T-head power and factory dual exhaust
  • Best in Class at Meadow Brook and the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance
  • A wonderful Brass Era tourer with superb performance

America’s oldest vehicle manufacturer, Studebaker, made its first foray into automobile production in 1897. Their track record for producing the highest quality horse-drawn vehicles was initially carried over into electric-powered vehicles and then gasoline-powered ones. Like most Midwestern manufacturers of their time, they started out producing smaller two-cylinder vehicles and then eventually progressed into larger, grander ones.

A flagship of the 1906 Studebaker line was the Model G, priced in the “high end” of automobiles at $4,000. It was offered with a five-passenger Roi des Belges touring car body, which had compound curves that were a significant step ahead in automotive design for the time. The Model G was perhaps the ultimate Brass Era product from South Bend, as it boasted a T-head, dual-cam, four-cylinder engine that could produce 36 horsepower. Its exhaust system was made up of four individual headers, which were muffled by an innovative factory dual exhaust that had one point at each end of the muffler. The transmission was a three-speed progressive gearbox that was produced for Studebaker by Garford, of Elyria, Ohio. Geared steering made the car’s operation surprisingly easy and agile for the time. Reportedly, a Model G was capable of cruising at speeds between 40 and 45 mph, with a higher top speed possible.

The car offered here, chassis number 841, was reportedly originally owned by a doctor in New York City. Around 1909 it passed to a retired physicist, Nathan Wheeler, of Calley College, New York. Not long after, Wheeler dubbed the car outdated for everyday use, and it was put away at his home in rural New Hampshire.

In the 1940s the Studebaker was uncovered by Henry Austin Clark Jr., one of the earliest American enthusiasts, whose collecting and historical research has become legendary. The “sleeping beauty” was in solid and complete original condition, having been well protected from the elements, and Clark did not hesitate to purchase it for his Long Island Automotive Museum. During his ownership it was restored and then reportedly utilized by Studebaker for a promotional film, which was produced in Florida in 1953.

Mr. Clark maintained the Studebaker until 1968, when it was offered for sale at Parke-Bernet’s auction at the Larz Anderson Museum in Brookline, Massachusetts. It was sold for the then-princely sum of $6,750 to Bill Harrah, for his own renowned collection in Reno, Nevada. There it remained on display until 1982, when it was purchased by Bob Valpey and returned to a stable in New Hampshire, where it had spent so many of its early years.

Mr. Valpey began the Studebaker’s restoration, which was continued in the ownership of Dr. Leo Parnagian, of Michigan, and then by the current owner after he purchased the car in 2005. After finally being returned to beautiful original condition, with an electric starter fitted for easy operation and its correct set of side curtains and top cover, it debuted that year at the Meadow Brook Concours d’Elegance, taking top honors in its class. With additional detailing, it was shown at the 2006 Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance, where it again garnered Best in Class.

Since then, the car has been regularly toured and enjoyed by its owner, who reports that it is ready for another century of enthusiastic road use. It is offered with a copy of its original sales brochure and price list; the catalogue from the 1968 Parke-Bernet Larz Anderson sale, with a color photograph of this car and a handwritten notation of its price; the inventory and sale cards from Harrah’s; and full picture documentation of its restoration.

This handsome brass tourer is reportedly the oldest existing four-cylinder Studebaker, and it has been treasured by some of the greatest names in automotive enthusiasm: Clark, Harrah, and Valpey. It is one of the few Brass Era cars that were built in the early 1900s and are still enjoyable and practical for touring use, and it will continue to be a pleasurable acquisition for its new owner.

Please contact our exclusive automotive transportation partner, Reliable Carriers, for a shipping quote or any other information on the transport of this vehicle.

Alain Squindo

Detroit, Michigan

Alain Squindo joined RM Auctions in 2007, after graduating from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., with a degree in History. R... read more

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

Annette Abaci

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With post-secondary degrees in Economic Science and Mechanical Engineering, Annette Abaci initially worked part-time at Mercedes-Benz ... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

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United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a senior car specialist, after more than a decade in the collector car hobby... read more

Barney Ruprecht

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Ontario, Canada

Barney Ruprecht graduated from Boston University in 2013 with a degree in Hospitality Administration. In ... read more

Dan Warrener

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Ontario, Canada

Possessing a degree in Economics from Brandon University, Dan Warrener spent the initial stages of his career working around the globe... 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. He is a lifelong automobile enthusiast and g... read more

Don Rose

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United States

Don Rose joined RM Auctions in 2006, after many years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputatio... 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 joined RM Sotheby's in 1998, initially responsible for the transportation and logistics of the company’s auction and re... 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 B.A. in Politica... read more

Jack Boxstrom

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Ontario, Canada

Jack Boxstrom joined RM Sotheby's in late-1996 to assist with the recently acquired, and subsequently record-breaking, auction in ... read more

Jake Auerbach

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Ontario, Canada

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

Jonathan Sierakowski

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Ontario, Canada

Jonathan Sierakowski developed a passion for classic cars while working at a restoration shop as a teenag... read more

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Indiana, United States

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Mike Fairbairn

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Ontario, Canada

As one of the three founding partners of RM Sotheby's, Mike Fairbairn has a longstanding interest in the classic car industry. Gra... 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 ho... read more

Peter Wallman

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United Kingdom

Peter Wallman joined RM Europe in 2007, following nearly two decades in the international advertising industry, read more

Rob Myers

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Ontario, Canada

As chairman and founder of the RM Group of Companies, Rob Myers’s entire career has been devoted to the classic car industry. Ro... 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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Tonnie Van der Velden joined RM Sotheby’s European division in September 2015 as a car specialist. A... read more