International auctioneer Bonhams is honored to offer a collection of exceptional early automobiles formerly on exhibit at the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry on October 4, 2008, at its annual vintage motorcar sale at the Larz Andersen Auto Museum in Brookline, Mass. The auction will feature 15 cars from that Chicago institution, many with exceptional provenance and several formerly owned by pioneers of the old car movement.
The Museum of Science and Industry opened its doors on June 19, 1933, the first interactive museum in North America. Important to the Museum’s mission was the lavish collection of automobiles assembled during its earliest days by museum president Major Lenox Lohr. With legendary collector D. Cameron Peck, a team of enthusiasts and the museum’s many corporate supporters put together a thoughtful and coordinated collection of important automobiles, carriages, wagons, trains and trolleys which contributed to Chicago’s position at the center of North America’s lifelines of transportation.
Over the years the transportation exhibits have been among the Museum of Science and Industry’s most successful and educational exhibits, attracting millions of visitors to the institution. In 2007 the Museum began the process of evaluating its car collection, some of which had been off display since 2001. In keeping with their original intention to advance the understanding and appreciation of automotive technology, it was decided that some of the cars were not likely to go on display in the foreseeable future and that these cars should be placed in the hands of those who will take full advantage of their intrinsic value. The resources realized from this sale will be used to modernize the car collection and inspire the next generation of car engineers, designers and enthusiasts.
Topping the museum’s offered motorcars, each to be sold with no reserve, is an ultra rare Cadillac Series 90 V-16 convertible sedan (estimate $300,000-$400,000). Just six of these were built in 1936, its believed only four remain today. This car was bequeathed to the museum in 1949, by a wealthy Minneapolis industrialist, when it was just 13-years old. Its 17,000 miles on the odometer are all that it has ever covered. That same year, Chicagoland car collector D. Cameron Peck, a pioneer of the hobby, sold his circa 1900 Locomobile Locosurrey and his 1913 National Model 40 to the museum. The earliest car of the group, the historic 108-year old steam powered antique, is rarely found in such complete and correct order. The evocative National (estimate $150,000-$200,000), an example of an early American high-performance sports car, echoes the finest speedsters of its day.
Strong collector interest is expected for the 1904 Stevens-Duryea Model L Runabout, which was secured for the museum in 1932 by automotive pioneer Charles E. Duryea after having only two owners. Manufactured in Chicopee Falls, Mass., this original condition motorcar was discovered by Duryea in Maine and could bring as much as $160,000. Equally exciting is a 1901 Oldsmobile Model R ‘Curved Dash’ Runabout (estimate $50,000-$60,000). Records indicate that the museum’s curator wrote to Ransom E. Olds in 1931 asking for information and leads on the model. The automaker responded: "These cars are getting quite scarce, and the day is coming when they probably will be quite a curiosity…" A year later the museum acquired the model from the Oldsmobile Division of General Motors.
Alongside the museum consignment—also featuring a 1929 Ford Model A Mail Truck, a 1924 Marmon Model 34 and a 1934 Rolls-Royce Phantom II Continental Sport Saloon, among others—are additional important early cars. General John Joseph ‘Black Jack’ Pershing’s 1918 Locomobile could bring as much as $225,000; considered desirable and exceedingly rare, the model was specifically built for him. Also on offer are a 1904 Knox Tourabout, a 1910 Packard Model 18 (estimate $225,000-$250,000), a sporting 1908 Isotta Fraschini Model FENC (estimate $100,000-$140,000) and an unusual custom built V-8 Cadillac Model 51 dating from 1915 (estimate $120,000-$150,000).
This October auction also features automobilia, with rare mascots and ephemera, vintage parts and scale models. A 1920s "Victoire" mascot by Rene Lalique could bring as much as $12,000 while a rare double-sided 1930s French Goodrich Tires enamel advertising sign could sell for as much as $7,500.
Previews open in the appropriate setting of the Larz Anderson Auto Museum near Boston on Oct. 3, promising to be a true celebration of vintage automobiles.