Sold for $132,000 at 2006 Gooding & Company
Theodore Search of the Stetson Hat Company and Spencer Trask purchased the Keystone Motor Company of Philadelphia in 1900. The result of that buyout was the Searchmont Motor Company. Search and Trask had seen potential with the evolving automobile and with the Keystone Motor Company. Keystone had been creating single-cylinder, rear engined runabouts and delivery wagons that had been done with much success. Their vehicles were lightweight and the five-cylinder engine was suitable to carry the vehicles along at a modest pace. With the buyout, the Searchmont Company retained the services of Keystone's plant manager, Edward B. Gallagher. For the first two years of the Searchmont existence, the vehicles produced mimicked the styling of their predecessors. Little was changed until Frenchman Henri Fournier came aboard. Fournier had gained a reputation as a racing driver and was given the task of creating a new design for the Searchmont automobiles. The result of his work was not seen until 1903. His contributions to the Searchmont automobile included the use of force-feed lubrication, which made it the first of its kind in the US.
Lee S. Chadwick aided Fournier in the design and engineering of the new vehicles. Soon, the duo had created a powerful, 32-horsepower four-cylinder engine that helped Searchmont outpace their competition. The price tag for a Searchmont quickly escalated, costing twice as much as other marques such as Ford or Cadillac. The demand for this price was due to the vehicles reliability, style, and advanced engineering. Sadly, their place in history was short lived. Trask, who had been a big financial backer of the company, lost a large amount of money in the stock market and was forced to resend his support to the company. The sales of the cars began to dwindle and when the company finally did close its doors, was still left with inventory which included about 100 examples of the two-cylinder auto.
The companies remaining inventory was purchased by John Wanamaker for $750 each, which was a heavily reduced price and a bargain for Wanamaker. Wanamaker was in the business of department stores and used his stores for the sale of his line of automobiles. The cars were sold at a price of $1250 per vehicle, which was still a bargain for both buyer and seller.
This 1904 Searchmonth Touring automobile is a rear-entranced vehicle that is powered by a two-cylinder engine that produces an adequate 10 horsepower. The engine uses a double-chain drive to turn the wheels and features the force-feed engine lubrication system. The gorgeous body sits atop an 81-inch wheelbase and is believed to be the only Searchmont in existence. It has wonderful, period correct, brass accents, wicker tonneau baskets, and leather upholstery.
It is a 'barn find' vehicle and has been lovingly restored to new condition. It is from the estate of James A. Conant and formerly the property of Bill Pollock and John Mozart. It has received a national first place award from the Antique Automobile Club of America and is eligible for the London-to-Brighton event.
It was offered for sale at the 2006 Gooding & Company Auction in Pebble Beach where it was estimated to sell between $80,000-$110,000. There was much interest in this car during auction day, as automotive enthusiasts opened their hearts and their wallets to drive the price up to an impressive $132,000.By Daniel Vaughan | Feb 2007