Classic Van Auction Talk

Wednesday 16 October 2019

1900 Locomobile Steamer Type 2 5½hp Spindle Seat Runabout -BONHAMS AUCTIONS London to Brighton Sale Friday 1st November 2019 New Bond Street Saleroom, London -


London to Brighton Sale
Friday 1st November 2019
New Bond Street Saleroom, London

1900 Locomobile Steamer Type 2 5½hp Spindle Seat Runabout
Registration no. 811 UXB
Chassis no. 29
*Rare early steam-powered automobile

*Imported from the USA in 1988
*Restored in 2018 by the British Engineerium
*Fully steam certified


  • Founded in 1899, Locomobile began by building steam-powered cars - essentially re-badged Stanleys - before switching to gasoline-powered automobiles in 1904. The Stanley Brothers had sold out to John Brisben Walker who, together with business partner Amzi Lorenzo Barber, continued production under the Locomobile name at the existing plant in Watertown, Massachusetts. The partnership soon dissolved, however, Barber retaining Locomobile while Walker went off to build the same car as the Mobile. By early 1901 Barber had relocated production to Bridgeport, Connecticut and by May 1902 more than 4,000 Locomobiles had been sold. These early Locomobiles were among the fastest road transport of their day - in 1902 S T Davis Jr drove a specially prepared racer over the measured mile at an average speed of 48mph. For all its speed, the writing was on the wall for the Locomobile; gasoline-powered automobiles had become increasingly refined and the steamer could not match them for range. In 1904 the company bowed to the inevitable and the Locomobile steamer was discontinued.

    Dating from a time when the internal combustion engine's universal hegemony had yet to be established, this remarkably conserved Locomobile steamer hails from Brooklyn where its history can be traced back to 1950 or thereabouts, having been stored in a loft in a scrapyard in that area. It remained in that ownership until 1988 when it was imported into the UK, and during the following nine years underwent a meticulous conservation/restoration. Safety modifications include a double-acting band brake, allowing some braking in reverse, and the fitting of a brace to the rear axle to prevent sagging. Both of these modifications, copies of in-period after-sales items, can easily be removed.

    Following restoration, this car successfully completed the London to Brighton Run in 2001. In 1999 it had been invited to attend the Cartier Style et Luxe Concours d'Élégance at The Goodwood Festival of Speed where it enjoyed the notable distinction of completing the slowest run of the weekend on the hill! The current vendor purchased the Locomobile at Bonhams' Beaulieu Sale in September 2007 (Lot 725).
    In 2018 the Locomobile was restored again, on this occasion by the British Engineerium under the supervision of Chief Engineer Peter Fagg and Second Engineer Michael Rozsnyaki.

    Steam cars are admirably catered for by both the Steam Car Club of Great Britain and the VCC of GB, which has officially dated this car as built-in 1900. It carries a VCC Dating Plate and comes with a Science Museum dating letter and a V5C registration document. This rare and most desirable Locomobile steamer is eligible for any number of prestigious historic motoring events and gatherings.


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