1914 White Model Thirty

1914 White Model Thirty 1914 White Model Thirty 1914 White Model Thirty
Touring Car
Chassis #: 20688
Engine #: GK 2637
Sold for $57,200 at 2007 Gooding & Company.
Sold for $29,700 at 2018 RM Auctions : Auburn Fall.
The White Company, under the direction of Rollin H. White, built their first steam powered car in 1900. The following year, 193 examples were built and sold. Innovation and modernization continued throughout the years, with the buggy styled body being replaced by a front-mounted compound engine design in 1903. The design featured wheel steering, shaft drive, and armored wood frame. Some of their cars were given 2-speed rear axles and by 1909, some were produced as much as 40 horsepower. During the Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft presidential era, White's were the official White House cars.

The White steam cars were catalogued until 1911, after which their entire production were changed to internal combustion engines beginning in 1910. Their engines had four-cylinders in L-head monoblock design with the cylinders cast in pairs. They were mated to a four-speed gearbox with an overdrive top ratio.

A few years later, in 1912, a six-cylinder engine was added to the line-up and continued through 1916. The following year the four-cylinder engines had four-valves per cylinder. At this point in history, trucks were more popular than automobiles for the White company. After 1918, White automobiles could be ordered by special order only.

In 2007 this 1914 White Model 30 Touring Car was brought to the Gooding & Company auction held in Pebble Beach, California where it was estimated to sell for $75,000 - $95,000 and offered without reserve. Bidding failed to reach the estimates, but since there was no reserve, the lot was sold. It sold for $57,200 including buyer's premium.

This car has a very innovative piece of technology that was very convenient during its day. It has an 18-volt starter/generator that serves as a self-starter and then automatically converts to a generator to recharge the batteries when the speed of the engine increases.

The car can cruise comfortably at speed of 50 mph. If a flat tire occurs or if they need more air, there is a gearbox-driven compressor used to inflate tires on the road. An exhaust whistle signals the car's approach. There are removable front and rear side curtains adding to the versatility of the vehicle.


By Daniel Vaughan | Apr 2008
In the early days of automobile production, there were three main power sources to drive the vehicle: gasoline, electricity, and steam. All three had 'pros' and 'cons', with gasoline eventually becoming the more popular around 1914. During the late 1890's and early 1900s, it was unclear which would have become the dominate source. Gasoline was smelly, noisy, and was difficult to start, though it was the most powerful. Electricity was the popular choice for city driving, especially with doctors and ladies. It was quiet and clean but it had limited distance that it could travel and replenishing its power took time. Steam was quiet and clean but it had its draw-backs. The vehicles produced a lot of heat, and it took a while to produce the steam. This meant that the driver often had to wait 30 minutes or more for the vehicle to be ready to drive.

Water was inserted into a boiler and then heated from either gasoline or kerosene. The steam was then sent to the cylinders causing pressure which drove the pistons. The steam was condensed, changing the steam back into a liquid form. The water was then reused.

Rollin White of the White Sewing Machine Company in Cleveland was a strong believer in the future of steam powered automobiles. He created an engine that was easy to operate and durable. In 1899 he patented his 'semi-flash boiler' which provided safety features which were revolutionary at the time. Boilers were often prone to explosion, but with Rollin's design, these problems were virtually non-existent. Other steamers heated the water in the upper coils but Rollins allowed the water to be heated in the lower coils. This meant that the generator was able to produce steam quicker and safer.

White turned out 719 steam powered model Ds and one, outlined with electric lights, was suspended from the ceiling at the Cleveland Automobile Show in 1904. White gave out white carnations and hat pins shaped like the little 1904 White Model D to all female visitors to the show.

By 1906 the sewing machine company and automaking department had become separate, with Rollin and Windsor White incharge of the automobile production. A few years later, in 1910, the White Company began producing gasoline-powered cars. There business was 50 percent steam and 50 percent gasoline production. The following year would be the final year of steamer production and by 1912 the White Company was only producing gasoline-powered vehicle. During its eleven years of producing steam powered vehicles, 9,122 examples were produced.

In 1912 the controls of the White automobile shifted from the right-hand side to the left. Much experimentation followed with the gasoline engine. By 1912 the company was using a variety of four and six-cylinder engine to power its machines. The majority of the vehicles used the four-cylinder with a total of 432 examples being powered by the sixes.

In 19114 Thomas White passed away; that same year Rollin severed his ties with the company. Windsor White became president and Walter White was elected as vice-president. After this reorganization, the company officially became known as the White Motor Company in 1915.

Leon Rubay was hired in 1915 to head the Pleasure Vehicle Department. Rubay was a prominent auto body manufacturer who had a profound effect on the White vehicles creating superior styling and body work for the White passenger cars. Rubay stayed with the company for only a year but his influences were profound. After Rubay's departure he created his own manufacturing company which White continued to use to body thier most luxurious automobiles.

The trucks that were built by White were used during World War One. Prior to the Russian Revolution, the Czarist purchased a fleet of White trucks, which came to be known as 'the White Squadron'. After 1918 White abandoned car production and focused solely on trucks. The company had produced 8,927 examples of gasoline powered cars. The company continued to produce trucks becoming on of the largest producers in America. In 1980 they went bankrupt and were later absorbed into Volvo/GMC, later Volvo North America.


By Daniel Vaughan | Apr 2008

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