This Model 50, 1908 Simplex Speedcar, was discovered in the early 1960s and is a rare find. The engine is totally rebuilt with new aluminum pistons, rings, all bearings and ball bearings. The original crankcase was cracked and a new one was recast by an aircraft company at a huge expense. Simplex always had a problem with the originals and the new crankcase has proven reliable. The wheels were rebuilt by the Callimer Wheel Company of PA. The only later parts on the car are two screw adjustments for the chain tensioner.The chassis, springs, axle, sprocket, wheels, radiator, transmission, jack shafts, rear drums and sprockets, body and seats are all original to this Speedcar. The 13-gallon oil tank was salvaged from another car, as the original was not worthy of restoration. A 40-gallon fuel tank makes long touring a breeze.The Speedcars were cataloged without fenders, but most had fenders to keep the dirt out of the occupant's faces. The fenders are in sockets on the frame for easy removal when the Speedcars were raced.
This is one of two Simplex Speedcars in existence; the other Speedcar is at the Smithsonian Institution. Discovered in the 1960s by Brass-Era guru Tom Leicester, this Speedcar has been carefully restored and preserved. It has a 4-cylinder, 610 cubic-inch engine with large 5.75-inch diameter pistons. Enlarged racing sprockets enable the chain-drive to handle the enormous torque. The car also boasts a 12-gallon oil tank to take care of the total loss lubrication system while on the run. That system often leaves an enthusiastic driver covered with an attractive film of blackened, used oil as its new owner is just discovering.
The history of the Simplex is deeply rooted in the intersection of American and European innovation. The Simplex name was associated with several owners in its short 12 year run, but in that time Simplex vehicles came to represent the best combination of power and fashionable design that the U.S. had seen.The original Simplex founders, Smith & Mabley of New York, took their cues from their careers as import car dealers, recognizing how European technology could impact American car design. Bankrupt after only two years, Simplex's founders handed over the reigns to Herman Broesel. Broesel's passion for racing would redirect Simplex's focus to include European racing components and expertise. German-made chrome-nickel parts and frames, combined with Mercedes' skill, created a 90mph machine that was capable of more than quadrupling the current speed limit. Broesel's trendsetting did not end there. To further distinguish his automobile, Broesel teamed up with well respected coach builders to add elegance and style to his very capable vehicles.These unique cars were in high demand given the limited quantity the company could produce. The success however was short lived. Broesel's untimely death in 1912 led to the company's demise. Sold to new owners with less interest in innovation, the Simplex company, then known as Crane-Simplex produced more orthodox vehicles. Only three years after the transition the Simplex name came to an end when the company refocused its energies on the war efforts. By Daniel Vaughan | Sep 2013