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Lot 65
1911 Maxwell Model AB Runabout



• Authentic horseless carriage; known history since 1943
• Excellent for local jaunts; simple mechanical restoration needed
• Long time Southern California ownership
• Fitted with Maxwell headlights

127.2 cid horizontally opposed two-cylinder engine, 14 HP, three-speed sliding gear transmission, solid front axle, semi-floating rear axle both on leaf springs, rear wheel internally expanding mechanical brakes; wheelbase: 86”

In the early days of the automotive industry, Benjamin Briscoe who has already made a fortune in the sheet metal business and had been an early investor in the Buick Motorcar, contacted Jonathan D. Maxwell who had experience with both Northern Automobile and Oldsmobile and encouraged him to set up a new manufacturing plant for his own car. Moving away from Michigan to Tarrytown, New York, the Maxwell-Briscoe Motor Company was established with the help of another financial tycoon, J. P. Morgan. Solid engineering meant that the Maxwell was on its way to success. Helping to make headlines for the company, a quartet of lady motorists completed a transcontinental journey from New York to San Francisco driving a Maxwell. In 1910, this little company sold over 20,000 cars coming in third in the sales race behind only Ford and Buick. For 1911, five different models would be marketed with prices ranging from $600 for the two-cylinder Model AB Runabout to $1,600 for the 30 HP Model GA in either touring or roadster form.

Our consignor acquired this car from its previous owner in 2017 after it had been a part of the legendary Bothwell Collection in Southern California since 1943. The car is basically original and from early photos, and from when it was first received as part of that collection, the only updates we could spot were a new set of tires and reupholstering of the seat. The car has retained its original Maxwell No. 2 brass headlamps as well as a pair of brass cowl lights and its original radiator which just needs some polishing to make it shine. Lifting off the original one-piece hood reveals the rock-solid two-cylinder powerplant that resulted in decent sales even in 1911 when more of the world had switched to four-cylinder engines. It is finished in black with original wood spoke wheels and features a diamond-tufted seat done in fine tan leather, most likely completed in the 1960s. This is a rare chance to own a rather early piece of motoring history and to share it with the world. Coming from the Hollywood area, one must wonder, could this have been Jack Benny’s first Maxwell?

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