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Exceptional Motor Cars, Christies (3 June 2007)

Body No.: 50267
Gray with black fenders & hood; black canvas top, black leather interior

Engine: six cylinders in line, 50hp, 212.3 cubic inch; Gearbox: three-speed manual; Suspension: live axles with semi-elliptical leaf springs; Brakes: mechanical rear wheel drums. Left hand drive.

Established in Tarrytown, New York in the early years of the 20th century by Jonathan Dixon Maxwell, formerly of Oldsmobile and Benjamin Briscoe, the Maxwell-Briscoe Company was one of the pioneer American automobile manufacturers.

The Maxwell company joined with Stoddard-Dayton, Courier Car Co, Columbia Automobile Company, Brush Motor Car Company, Alden Sampson Trucks, Gray Marine, and Providence Engineering Works to form the United States Motor Company in 1910. An effort to provide a sales organization for smaller, struggling manufacturers, it was a short-lived effort and the USMC collapsed in 1913. Maxwell, the only profitable component of the company, was purchased by Walter Flanders who established factories in Detroit and Dayton, Ohio. Under this new ownership, the company flourished, producing a range of highly regarded quality cars with sophisticated valve gear, cooling and gearboxes.

Maxwell cars were also tested competitively, setting a record on ten days, sixteen hours for a cross-country trip in 1916 as well as in a race between Washington, D.C. and Baltimore against the Pennsylvania Railroad's "Congressional Limited" express train. The Maxwell didn't win that one, but only by a margin of four minutes over forty miles.
Maxwells also did well in Glidden Tours, frequently besting much more expensive marques. Their reliability was a strength, with the cars often scoring success when other, faster cars failed.

However, in the recession which followed World War I, Maxwell was in deep trouble and in 1921, Walter P. Chrysler arranged to take a controlling interest in Maxwell. He eventually phased out the name, and what would have been Maxwells became Chryslers and later, Plymouths.

Although almost forgotten today, Maxwell was once the third largest selling automobile in the US, behind Ford and Buick. It was one of the most important early American manufacturers and was very highly regarded in its time.

Maxwell was noted for producing cars which were practical, reliable and well built, but with a level of performance and elegance more typical of higher priced models. Many may remember that comedian Jack Benny "owned" an old Maxwell- perhaps because of its durability. Though it hard to imagine the parsimonious comic buying a grand car such as the one Christie's is selling here.

The Model 50-6 was the top of the Maxwell line when introduced, riding on a long 130" wheelbase and boasting twice the horsepower of the smaller 4-cylinder Model 35 and Model 25.

Finished in a lovely gray and black color scheme with cream coachlining on the body and wood spoke wheels, it is a grand and impressive large tourer. The two fold-away occasional seats give this Model 50-6 seven passenger accommodation. The older restoration was done to a very high level and still presents quite well. As it has been in static display for a number of years, it will require some mechanical re-commissioning before use in the tours and events for which it is so very well suited. Alternatively, it might also serve as a ready base for a stunning concours restoration. Whichever the new owner chooses, it will certainly be an unusual and stunning presence in any venue.

Lot Details
Auction Exceptional Motor Cars
Christies, Connecticut
Lot Number08
Outcome SOLD
Hammer Price$44000
Hammer Price (inc premium)-
Condition rating0
Registration number
Chassis number: 58407
Engine number: 50254
Engine capacity (cc)
Engine - cylinders
Number of doors