As readers of AutoVolt will know, electric cars are nothing new despite popular opinion to the contrary. They do, in fact, pre-date petrol cars although you’d be forgiven for thinking the contrary. Early examples of electric cars are extremely rare for a number of reasons. First, there weren’t too many produced as none were what you might call mass-produced, at least in comparison to modern standards and even Ford’s infamous Model T that kicked off vehicle mass production.
However, for your chance to own a perfectly usable piece of history, Historics at Brooklands has just the ticket, two electric cars dating 1906 and 1907. Of course, the dates make both cars sadly inelegible for the world’s oldest road race, the London to Brighton, which severely affects the price of this historic pair. Estimates are for little more than a top-spec Nissan LEAF, making this veteran pair a relative bargain.
Compared to veteran petrol cars, this electric duo offer silent running, instant power and practical usability not often associated with the oft broken down veteran. Engines of the day were often crude, unrefined and dirty, not to mention difficult to drive with crash gears and heavy lever operations. Electric cars of the day were in fact the preferred choice for New York socialites and only lost out to the petrol engine thanks to improvements in roads and the inexpense of petrol and the convenience of refuelling times.
Here’s the auction blurb…
The USA-built centegenarian duo – an elegantly-named 1906 Pope Waverley Victoria Phaeton and 1907 Victor High Wheel Electric Runabout – come to sale at Historics major summer auction at Brooklands Museum, Surrey, UK on Saturday, June 11.
Immensely rare and sought-after today, they were no flashes-in-the-pan at the time they were built. Indeed, emphasising the clamour for electric cars as personal mobility became the mantra, there were over 100 manufacturers of cars powered by a battery in the early 20th century. It was only advances in the internal combustion engine and the mass production of cheaper petrol vehicles that sounded the death knoll of the electric car movement at the time.
The 1906 Pope Waverley Victoria Phaeton, offered by Historics at an estimate of £30,000-£40,000, sold at the time of its build in Nebraska for some $1,600, and is notable for its supreme presentation. Fully-restored and elegant in the extreme, the convertible features a leather-lined hood, with the additional sumptuous comfort of complementary leg covers.
Seating two on the floral print, button-back fabric ‘bench’ seat plus a rear-facing occasional seat, the car is steered by tiller and rudimentary but extremely effective controls to go and stop. With electric coach lamps, it is fully capable of nighttime expeditions but it is in its element with the roof down on a summer’s day.
Brought to the UK by the vendor some years ago, the Pope Waverley is now equipped with modern technology batteries and charging system giving it a very useable range.
The very compact 1907 Victor High Wheel Runabout, built one year later in Indianapolis, spent many years on display in an American Museum before being imported to the UK, when it was the subject of a complete sympathetic overhaul. This included the fitment of contemporary batteries and charging system, and a recent repaint of both the chassis and bodywork, together with black leather upholstery and far from rudimentary patent leather mudguards to protect its inhabitants. As is the case of the Pope Waverley, vision is superb from the high driving position.
In common with today’s ‘new age’ electric vehicles the Victor is practically silent when running – all the more so thanks to minimal solid tyre contact. Perhaps today’s EV manufacturers could take a cue from the Victor, which is equipped with a large bell on the driver’s side so pedestrians are aware of its stately approach.
In common with the 1906 Pope Waverley, much interest in this equally rare and sought-after Victor is anticipated at its estimate of £30,000-£40,000.
These magnificent examples of electric cars from more than a century ago are two of the highlights of 139 fine classic motor cars, across a wide range of values and marques, spanning ten decades, on sale on Saturday, June 11th at Historics at Brooklands, Surrey, where all consignments can be viewed on the Thursday and Friday prior.
Full consignments and information are available to view at www.historics.co.uk, or contact Historics at Brooklands on 01753 639170, or email [email protected].
Source; Historics at Brooklands