Sold for $852,500 at 2015 RM Auctions
W.A. Pungs and his son-in-law E.B. Finch created a company known as Pungs-Finch. Pungs provided the financial backing while Finch had the training and engineering skill. Finch had attended the University of Michigan and built an experimental automobile in 1902. In 1904, the two bought out the Stintz Gas Engine in downtown Detroit.
In 1906, this Pungs-Finch automobile was built and dubbed the Limited. Power was from a very large four-cylinder engine displacing nearly 600 cubic-inches. It had an exposed, overhead camshaft which crossed on top of each of the individually cast cylinders. There were hemispherical combustion chambers in shape with angled valves. This may be the first true 'Hemi' powered engine ever designed and built in America.
The company guaranteed the car could travel at least 55 miles per hour, an impressive accomplishment in the early 1900s. Reportedly, Henry Ford told Pungs it was the finest car he had ever seen. Shortly after completing this car, Pungs and Finch had a falling out and Finch left the partnership in order to become a Chalmers-Detroit dealer in Cleveland.
There is only one Pungs-Finch car known to exist, and it is this 1906 Limited model. It was discovered and owned for many years by the noted automobile historian Henry Austin Clark Jr., and was displayed in his museum. It remained in Clark's collection until 1979 and then was donated to the San Antonio Museum of Transpiration, which brought it to the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance in 1981, where it won the Charles Chayne Trophy. The museum had it on display until 1994. It was then acquired by Jan Voboril, of California, from who the present owner acquired it. In its current ownership, the car has been treated to a restoration by Classic & Exotic Service, of Troy, Michigan. The original wooden touring body was recreated, and a correct brass radiator was fabricated to its original form.
In 2008, the car was displayed at Pebble Beach and then shown at the 2009 Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance, winning the Racetoration Award.
In 1906, the Pungs-Finch Auto and Gas Engine Co., of Detroit, introduced their 'Limited' Touring car with the boast that it 'could go anywhere at any speed with distinction not exceeded by that of any self-propelled vehicle for use on common roads.' Indeed, with its massive 650 cubic-inch four-cylinder engine which had a 5.75-inch bore and a staggering 6.25-inch stroke, there were few, if any cars on the road which could match it for sheer displacement. In a day when 'pulling a hill' in high gear was the ultimate measure of a car's strength, there were few that could match this monster. In addition, during its first test run, the Pungs-Finch Limited managed to average over 55 mph, even though it was only running on three cylinders at the time.
Born in Milton, Ontario, Canada, William C. Anderson moved to Port Huron, Michigan where he began building buggies and carriages beginning in 1884. After learning that a huge proportion of his firm's output was going to Detroit, Anderson and two Michigan businessmen named Pungs and William M. Locke formed the Anderson Carriage Co. in 1895. In 1895 Anderson relocated to Detroit and Locke was brought in as a partner.
Born in Cologne Germany on April 25th 1849, William August Pungs was the son of Peter W. and Angeline Pungs. He moved to America with his parents in 1852 and was educated in public school of Detroit. Since the beginning of his career, Pungs was heavily involved in the machinery and railway supply business. For 12 years he organized the Michigan Railway supply Co., which in 1882 was merged with the Chicago Ry. Equipment Co.,
Another company that was organized by William Pungs was the Pungs-Finch Auto & Gas Engine Company that was the successor to the Michigan Yacht & Power Company. An American automobile manufacturing company located in Detroit, Michigan, this company constructed powerful touring vehicles that were built by a factory which made gas engines. This company had an extremely promising beginning in 1904 and was prospering before the plant was entirely destroyed by fire and suffered a heavy loss in 1908.
1904 models came with 14 hp cylinder engines. One year later the much bigger Model 35 Runabout of 5808 cc as well as the Model 50 of 6435 cc replaced these earliest models. An even larger model was introduced in 1906; the Finch Limited, and it was powered by an 8652 cc single overhead camshaft, four-cylinder engine. For the 1908 year, model ranged in price from $2500 to $5000, which was quite a hefty price-tag back in those days.
Only a very few Pungs-Finch cars are still in existence today, and one of these beautiful models was on display at the 2009 Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance. Jay Leno is also a proud owner of one of these great collector pieces.By Jessica Donaldson
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