Skip to main content

1915 Crane-Simplex Model 5 news, pictures, specifications, and information
Sport Berline
Coachwork: Brewster
Designer: Henry Crane
Chassis Num: 2168
 
Sold for $150,000 at 2007 Bonhams.
This 1915 Crane Simplex Sport Berline by Brewster was originally built for the 1915 New York Auto Show. It was the personal car of Mr. Henry Crane, the designer and builder of the Crane Simplex automobiles.

It was purchased after the show by a wealthy New York socialite and was used by her until the late 1930s.

The car has only 22,000 original miles and still has the original English wood upholstery. Its original cost was $13,800.

This Brewster Sport Berline is equipped with matching luggage, a full array of tools, German silver-cast hardware, a French Cicca Boa Constrictor horn and custom-made lamps.

In the 1980s, this Crane-Simple was discovered in Rhode Island in entirely original condition. The car attracted the attention of Veniero Molari of Turin, Italy who was service as FIVA vice president at the time. The car was then prepared for vintage rallies which included refinishing the paintwork in the original Brewster Green lacquer with purple trim and black fenders. The engine and transmission were carefully rebuilt and the radiator was re-cored. A new set of wheels and rims were fashioned to provide safe and reliable touring.

The car has recently returned to the United States. The car made its concours debut in 2005 at the Amelia Island Concours. It was later shown at the Greenwich Concours.

In 2010, this car was offered for sale at the Gooding & Company auction in Pebble Beach, CA where it was estimated to sell for $150,000 - $200,000. Sadly, the car would leave the auction unsold.
Convertible Coupe
 
The chassis without bodywork cost was $5,000; with the body included the cost was $8,000 in 1915.

It has a 563 cubic-inch six-cylinder engine with 110 horsepower.

It is reputed to be the only roadster built on the Simplex chassis.

The 1st owner was John Wanamaker, founder of the first department store. The 2nd owner was James Bragg, President of the U.S. Steel Company.

By Daniel Vaughan | Oct 2007
In 1904 Smith & Mabley Manufacturing Company of New York City built their first car. To date, this remains one of the few companies to produce vehicles in New York City. The vehicles they produced were called the S&M Simplex. Noted for their quality, the company was positioned to perform well in the new and evolving automotive industry. Production continued until the company went bankrupt in 1906 partly because of a mounting recession. The following year, the assets were absorbed into the Simplex Automobile Company and purchased by Herman Broesel. Broesel was a wealthy textile manufacturer who was responsible for inspiring some large and fast Simplex models, such as the 50 and 90. Broesel died in 1912 which meant the company was now in the hands of his sons. The following year sales slumped and the brothers decided to abandon the company. Simplex was purchased by Goodrich, Lockhart and Smith who moved the company to New Brunswick, New Jersey. A year later they acquired Crane, resulting in the Crane-Simplex. Later, the company was purchased by Mercer Automobile Company.

The merger between Crane and Simplex was suitable; both produced high priced and high quality automobiles. Their vehicles were built to order. The Crane Company had been founded by Middleton Crane and had built a reputation for creating some of the nicest, most expensive automobiles in all of America. No expense was spared on the creation of their automobiles. The chassis, engine, and assembly was very detailed and every effort was made to create quality and insure durability.

Thus, the Crane-Simplexes were built in very low numbers. Their clientele included the wealthy and powerful, including the Rockefeller family.

The Crane Motor Car Company was purchased by the Simplex Automobile Company in 1914. Part of the acquisition included the services of its founder and chief engineer, Henry Crane. Up to this point in history, the Crane Motor Company produced vehicles in limited quantities; after the merger, production increased.

Henry M. Crane graduated from M.I.T. with degrees in mechanical and electrical engineering. His first employer was the American Bell Telephone Company, followed by Western Electric. He began the Crane and Whitman Company of Bayonne, New Jersey in 1906 which became the Crane Motor Car Company around 1910.

The first model produced by Crane was the Model 3 which made its debut in 1912. The rolling chassis cost a staggering $8,000 with custom coachwork costing additional. Between the years of 1912 through 1914, around 40 example of the Crane were produced. These cars would become the basis for the Simplex Crane when the merger occurred in 1914.

The Model 50 chain-drive Simplex had impressive power, speed, and endurance. It was an attractive car that lacked some of the refinements the American luxury-car buyer had grown to expect in the pre-WWI era.

The Simplex models prior to the merger had been powered by a four-cylinder, T-head unit. After the merger, the newly introduced Model 50 was fitted with a six-cylinder Crane-designed unit that offered 110 horsepower from the 564 cubic-inch unit. In similar design to the Rolls-Royce Silver Ghosts, the engine was built in two blocks of three cylinders each. With side valves the engine operated very quietly from idle upwards. The engines were so well built and engineered, they were produced without change during their production span. A new shaft drive setup replaced the old chain drive mechanisms. The wheelbase of the Model 5 Crane measured 144-inches.

In February of 1920, Simplex became part of the Hare's Motors, which included Mercer and Locombile. This dream-team lasted for only a short time, until 1922, when ownership passed to Henry Crane. He had hopes of reviving the marque but it would never come to fruition.

Henry Crane became a consulting engineer to GM Chairman Alfred P. Sloan. Crane later became famous in the boating field for his engines that powered the Dixie speedboats, which won the Harmsworth Trophy four times.

By Daniel Vaughan | May 2008
Recent Vehicle Additions

2017 Buick Cascada

2012 Bugatti Veyron Grand Sport

1905 Oldsmobile Model N

1972 Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser

1988 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme

1951 Oldsmobile Super Eight-Eight
For more information and related vehicles, click here

"
'RACE OF THE CENTURY' WINNING MERCEDES ATTENDS THE 2014 AMELIA ISLAND
The Grand Prix Mercedes that won the 'Race of the Century,' the 1914 French Grand Prix, will appear at the 19th annual Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance as the centerpiece of a special display presented by Mercedes-Benz and car owner George Wingard. A team of five Mercedes Grand Prix racers traveled to France for the Grand Prix of the Automobile Club of France, less than one week after the assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand. It was a time of political turmoil and accelerating tech...[Read more...]
RRDC VOTES IN 37 NEW MEMBERS FOR 2013
 HILLIARD, Ohio (Nov. 7, 2013) - Thirty-seven race-car drivers and motorsports professionals have been voted into the Road Racing Drivers Club in 2013. The group includes 13 Regular Members from the open-wheel and sports-car racing ranks, 20 Associate Members and four Honorary Members. The current roster of RRDC members now numbers 440. Voting was held among all current RRDC members. 'This year's crop of new Regular Members truly represents the spirit of the RRDC, as each driver has de...[Read more...]
DAN GURNEY JOINS 'THE AMELIA'S' FORD GT40 SEMINAR
Le Mans winner Dan Gurney, the Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance's 2002 Honorary Chairman, returns to 'The Amelia' to join a panel of international racing celebrities and experts honoring the 50th anniversary of Ford's game-changing GT40 prototype. Gurney won just one race for the Carroll Shelby-led Ford GT40 team, but it was the race that mattered most: the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Gurney's victory in the 1967 edition of the fabled Le Mans 24 Hour endurance classic has become the stuff of legen...[Read more...]
Concours d'Elegance 2011 Best of Show-European wins Louis Vuitton Classic
The Concours d'Elegance of America is honored to have its 2011 'Best of Show' Award-winning 1938 Mercedes-Benz 540K owned by Arturo and Deborah Keller chosen as the recipient of the prestigious Louis Vuitton Classic Award. Although it is well-understood that the competition for the coveted Louis Vuitton Annual Award was fierce, Arturo and Deborah Keller's 1938 Mercedes-Benz 540 K Autobahn Kurier was selected by the Louis Vuitton organization The award ceremony will take place in Monaco on Ap...[Read more...]
Blue-Chip Automobiles Set for RM's Ocean Front Sale at Amelia Island
– RM Auctions, the official auction house of the Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance, announced today its latest series of blue-chip automobiles set to cross the auction podium at its Amelia Island sale, March 10 in Florida. Held in conjunction with the famed Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance, the single-day sale will lift the gavel on more than 100 high-caliber automobiles, including ten examples expected to exceed $1 million. 'We're thrilled to be returning to Amelia Island and continuin...[Read more...]

Crane Model 5
Model 38
Model 50

1916 Model 5 Image Right
© 1998-2016. All rights reserved. The material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.