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Lot 683: 1904 Rambler 7hp Model H Tonneau Car

Collectors' Motor Cars and Motorcycles, Bonhams (3 December 2007)

Producers of bicycles under the ‘Rambler’ brand name, partners R Philip Gormully and Thomas B Jeffery diversified into automobile manufacture as early as 1897 with a single-cylinder gasoline engined car. Thomas’s son Charles then built two cars of improved design and the company exhibited at the Chicago and New York auto shows in the fall of 1900. These first Jeffery-designed cars were of front-engined, left-hand drive configuration, marking them out as advanced among contemporary American automobiles. Following the death of Philip Gormully, the Jefferys sold their bicycle business and set up as automobile manufacturers in a new state-of-the-art factory in Kenosha, Wisconsin, producing the Charles Jeffery car in revised form. Doubtful that the public would accept a front-engined, left-hand drive vehicle with wheel steering, Thomas Jeffery opted for conventionality in the form of a right-drive, tiller steered car with its engine mounted beneath the seat, the first of these new Ramblers being sold in February 1902. A high quality vehicle offered at a value-for-money price of $750, the Rambler was an instant success, selling 1,500 units in its first year of production, a figure bettered only by Ransom Eli Olds’ curved dash Oldsmobile. Larger, twin-cylinder models followed - some with front engines - and wheel steering had been reinstated by 1904, in which year 2,342 Ramblers were sold. Moving up market, Rambler had discontinued its single-cylinder models by 1906 and introduced a brace of fours. The 1910 range consisted of four-cylinder models only and by this time Rambler was established as one of the US auto industry’s leading firms. Following Thomas Jeffrey’s death that same year, the company continued with Charles at the helm, but from 1914 onwards its products would be badged as ‘Jeffery’. A famous name had gone.
The Rambler offered here is an example of the 7hp Model H, a right-hand drive, single-cylinder, ‘light touring’ model equipped with all-round elliptic springing, throttle control, from-the-seat starting, detachable tonneau, brass side lamps and horn, and all for a price of only $850 when new in 1904. Restored in the 1980s, the car previously belonged to a senior national officer of the Horseless Carriage Club of America, who had just completed a 150-mile tour in it before the car was sold and imported into the UK earlier this year. We are advised that ‘3561’ was produced during 1904 and had an entry accepted into this year’s VCC London to Brighton Run, but did not take part. The car is offered with current MoT/road fund licence and Swansea V5 registration document.

Lot Details
Auction Collectors' Motor Cars and Motorcycles
Bonhams, Olympia, London,
Lot Number683
Outcome SOLD
Hammer Price£43000
Hammer Price (inc premium)£48800
Condition rating
Registration numberBS 8472
Chassis number3561
Engine number3561
Engine capacity (cc)
Engine - cylinders
Number of doors