The Pope Manufacturing Company, once known for its bicycles, turned its attention to automobiles in 1903, and it expanded its model range rapidly. At one time the company had seventeen different models for sale. Styles included the Waverly, the Tribune, the Toledo and the Hartford, the latter of which was at the luxury end of the Pope range. This Pope-Hartford Model T was found laid up in a barn in 1949. It was then driven extensively near its home on Rhode Island before being stored again until it was once more resurrected in 1989. It is now fully restored to its former glory including its original color scheme.
Sold for $192,500 at 2015 Bonhams. The enormous bike craze of the late 1800s helped Col. Albert Pope build a highly successful bicycle empire. By the close of the decade, Pope had consolidated over 40 bicycle manufacturers into his American Bicycle Company. The manufacturing capability and the skill set of these companies gave Pope a strong basis to enter automobile manufacturing. Pope began in the 1890s with the Columbia automobile. It was primarily an electric car that gave Pope a toe-hold in the new market. The Pope automobile empire would grow over the years to include umbers brands including Pope-Tribune, Pope-Toledo, Pope-Robinson, Pope-Waverley and the most enduring, Pope-Hartford. The Pope-Hartford would be the only Pope brand built in the city of the company's headquarters in Hartford, Ct. Their first car was powered by a single cylinder engine in 1904. Four cylinder options followed in 1906 and these four-cylinder powerplants would ultimately build the brands reputation. They were well made and soundly engineered, earning them a reputation for durability and performance.
This 40 horsepower Pope was kept at William Harrah's Idaho ranch for his private use. It was acquired by the Harrah Auto Collection in the 1960s in highly original and complete condition. It was later given a Harrah's gold star restoration. It is finished in mocha paint over dark brown leather, accented with brown linoleum and sisal matting. The Grey and Davis lighting is all original and the headlamps are Pope Hartford branded with miniature fenders for chimneys.
The car was sold from the Harrah collection during one of the dispersal auctions in the 1980s. It resided in a West Coast collection before its acquisition by Charles LeMaitre. Mr. LeMaitre participated with the car in several HCCA tours during this time. The current caretaker acquired the car in 2006. Since then, the engine has been rebuilt and given an electric starter system and adapted the rear brakes to hydraulic. It has been given a new top and a complete set of tonneau covers in chocolate brown.
This Model T 40 HP tourer is powered by a 300 cubic-inch overhead valve engine fitted with a single carburetor and Bosch 'Dual' Magneto. It produces 40 horsepower and is fitted to a 3-speed Sliding-Gear transmission.
The Pope Manufacturing Company, founded by Colonel Albert A. Pope, produced Columbia bicycles prior to automobiles. Located in Hartford, Connecticut, it began producing vehicles in 1903 and continued until 1914 when it had entered into receivership. The vehicles it produced ranged in size and price ranges. A few of its products were the Pope-Waverly Electric, the low priced Pope Tribune, and the Pope Hartford. The Pope Toledo was the pinnacle of Pope Automobiles, being outfitted with luxurious amenities and powered by large engines. The early automobiles featured one cylinder engines producing ten horsepower. The Tonneau cover was removable and the brass trimmings gave the vehicle a distinguished and prestigious appearance. There were two forward speeds and one reverse. The steering was on the right and was able to seat four passengers.
The company averaged about 720 vehicles annually. In 1911, 693 vehicles were produced. Their vehicles were fast, reliable, and durable. They were more than a means of transportation; they were distinctive, stylish and luxurious masterpieces.
The headlamps were fueled by acetylene gas while the side lamps used kerosene fuel. These were standard on the vehicles, a feature provided by other automobile manufacturers at an additional price. The styling of the body was elegant while the interior was decorated and adorned in luxurious amenities.
The Pope-Hartford Touring Car could be purchased for $2750, depending on the options selected. Weighing in at 3260 pounds, the 229.4 cubic-inch four-cylinder engine producing 40 horsepower was capable of transporting five passengers. The ride was smooth and comfortable, thanks to the semi-elliptic leaf springs. The three-speed selective sliding transmission allowed the vehicle to cruise comfortably at 50 miles-per-hour. In 1910 a 40-horsepower Pope automobile was entered into a race that celebrated the 300th anniversary of the discovery of San Francisco. The Pope mobile emerged victorious.
At the turn of the century, Hartford was considered the automobile capital of the world. It was given this title because it was producing more than half of all motorized vehicles in the United States. Pope is credited with being the first manufacturer to mass-produce automobiles. His ability to use interchangeable parts and techniques developed for producing bicycles easily translated to the production of automobiles. However, this was not enough to compete with other rising manufacturers. Sales began to decline in 1912 and by 1915 the company was out of business. By Daniel Vaughan | Oct 2007
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