High bid of $560,000 at 2011 RM Auctions at Monterey. (did not sell) Toy Tonneau Touring
Chassis #: 633
Simplex's origins begin around the turn of the 20th century. Carleton Mabley and his brother-in-law Albert Smith would found The Smith and Mabley Manufacturing Co. of New York City right around the turn of the century. The problem was they didn't have any cars to manufacture. Instead, they would start out by importing foreign makes and rebuilding and remanufacturing them under their own name, S&M Simplex.
Unfortunately, this would not prove to be a very lucrative way of doing things and within just a couple of years the company would go bankrupt. Herman Broesel was in the textile business but was very passionate about racing and fine automobiles. In a very short amount of time, Broesel would turn Simplex into a very distinct automobile manufacturer, producing chassis that would become very desirable amongst the elite. The perhaps most desirable and popular of the Simplex models would be the 50.
The Model 50 wouldn't be a small machine, but it would be a regular competitor in a number of endurance races. A Simplex chassis would go on to win the 24 hour race and Brighton Beach. Another model would go on to beat drivers like Ralph De Palma and Barney Oldfield.
Over a period of half a decade, some 250 Model 50s would be produced. It would be the last right-hand driving positioned cars to be produced in the United States. The Model 50 would become the most popular model of the Simplex and it would be one of the most expensive and well-built luxury cars available at the time.
Big and opulent, only the wealthiest of individuals and families could afford the car. The company's cars would be owned by such individuals as John D. Rockefeller and Henry Crane. And one of these rare and expensive Model 50s would be up for sale at the RM Auctions event in Monterey, California.
All Simplexes started out life as bare chassis. It would then be finished with all appointments by a coachbuilder. Simplex would have relationship with many at the time including Demarest, Holbrook, Brewster, Healey and Quinby. In the case of chassis number 633, it would be Quinby that would finish the car.
What would result would be the Model 50 Four-Passenger Tourabout. This four-seater exotic and affluent Model 50 would come with its usual 50 hp, T-headed four-cylinder engine with dual chain drive. Though capable of reaching some incredible speeds for its day, the Model 50 would only come with rear-wheel mechanical drum brakes.
At the time of Simplex making the Model 50s the coachbuilding would take a good deal of time. The result would be an exquisite car with very fine appointments, but it would mean that the company would produce only a small number of cars over the course of a year's time. However, at the height of Simplex's existence only the most wealthy and affluent could really afford one of their models.
The story of 633 would pick up in 1930 when it would be found abandoned in California by Mr. Art Austria. The car was found to have been updated with modern electric lighting. Austria would set about restoring the car to its original condition. Correct Solar headlamps and Gray & Davis side and tail-lamps would all be attached to the car. The car would then be purchased E. Ray Bottimore and would continue to be owned by him until being acquired by Bill Harrah the casino owner and car enthusiast.
Just prior to 1970, the car would go through extensive restoration. Every aspect of the car would be researched. Even correct materials would be sought out to be used in the process. It would be found the car actually had been designed as a seven-passenger touring car. However, during the restoration process Harrah would maintain the four-passenger layout. But this would be held as consistent, it was believed, with the configuration Quinby designed for the car from the outset.
After completion, the car would remain in Harrah's collection until 1986 when General Lyon would purchase the car. Lyon just couldn't overlook this model car. It was so striking and appealing that he would go on to purchase the car despite not having any other car really from the period. Just one look and it is clear as to why. When finished, the car would be presented in a striking and beautiful contrast of color that easily conjures thoughts of royalty and exclusivity. Finished in white, the car smartly accented by Dark Blue leather interior wheels and sports a Tan cape top. The finished product captures the richness and quality of Simplex's Model 50.
Although they would not start out with any design of their own, the Simplex name would end up being associated with designs of such wealth and prestige that many others would look, tear apart and try and copy the quality and extravagance. Fittingly, this 1911 Simplex Model 50 was expected to earn between $650,000 and 850,000 at auction. Bidding reached $560,000 but it was insufficient to satisfy the reserve. It would leave the auction unsold.Sources:
'Featured Lots: Lot No. 218: 1911 Simplex Model 50 Four-Passenger Tourabout by Guinby', (http://www.rmauctions.com/featurecars.cfm?SaleCode=MO11&CarID=r248&fc=0). RM Auctions. http://www.rmauctions.com/featurecars.cfm?SaleCode=MO11&CarID=r248&fc=0. Retrieved 19 August 2011.
By Jeremy McMullen
Wikipedia contributors, 'Crane-Simplex', Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 3 April 2011, 19:43 UTC, http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Crane-Simplex&oldid=422191962 accessed 20 August 2011