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Lot 42
1909 REO Five-Passenger Touring
OFFERED WITHOUT RESERVE

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Selling on Wednesday

Offered from a Private Collection

CHASSIS NO: 20925

• Restyled for 1909 with new steel fenders and functional running boards
• Long-term ownership in a well-respected collection
• Right-hand drive with a lovely leather interior
• High quality paintwork, woodwork, and brass trim throughout


213 cid two-cylinder horizontally-opposed engine, 20 HP, two-speed planetary transmission, three-quarter elliptic front springs, full elliptic rear springs, rear wheel drum brakes; wheelbase: 96”


R.E. Olds founded Olds Motor Works in 1897 and was the first to conceive of a small, affordable car. His creation, known as the Curved Dash Olds, was released in 1901. The car went on to become the best-selling car in America between 1903 and 1905. When Olds received pressure from the board of directors in 1904 to drop the Curved Dash in favor of building larger, more expensive cars, he resigned his post. Olds lost no time in starting a new car company, REO, based on his own initials. Not one to back down from a fight, the first year’s models released by REO included cars that competed directly with Oldsmobile. The very first REO was tested for 2,000 miles with Ransom Olds himself behind the wheel. It was introduced to the world at the New York Auto Show at Madison Square Garden in January 1905, and it was a smash hit. REO was so successful that their cars outsold those of Oldsmobile in 1906 and, by 1907, REO occupied the number three spot behind only Ford and Buick.

When Henry Ford released the Model T in 1908, REO made changes in their offerings to remain competitive, including introducing metal fenders and running boards. REO discontinued its single-cylinder automobile after the 1910 model year but offered single-cylinder trucks for several years thereafter. 1909 was the first year REOs had steel seat backs and extensive use of aluminum. The engine was located under the front seat with the radiator, water and gas tank located under the hood. It is balanced by a 20-inch spoked flywheel residing under the driver’s left elbow. A two-speed chainless planetary transmission using two 9-inch bands on fiber-faced 9-inch drums is further outboard of that, directly under the driver’s seat. The sliding cone clutch engages softly and holds hard, using four bronze discs, a sliding cone and bell-cranks. It is believed that this was the first-year red paint was used on REOs. The foldable brass windscreen on this fine example was a dealer installed option. The chain-drive works well, and our consignor reports it is remarkably easy to drive, one he has enjoyed in local events and parades for several decades.

This REO Touring has certainly led a pampered life residing in a collection for the past 25 years. The paintwork is excellent and shows well, with dashing period pinstriping and just a few chips apparent. The brass windscreen, lamps, and trim are in excellent condition for a 112-year-old car. The upholstery is a well-executed mix of original leather and restored seats, with a classy wood-rimmed steering wheel and a newer vinyl top. It features a highly polished wood dash, and period whitewall tires mounted on painted wooden wheels which finish off the accurate presentation.

Few early American cars have the history and remarkable sales success of Ransom Old’s REO brand, and few collectors have the honor of owning such a fine example as this well-tended 1909 REO Five-Passenger Touring. Don’t miss out on this great chance to purchase a very original piece of early American automotive history. This REO is perfect for any local or regional car shows the new owner wishes to enter and will be a rewarding experience every time it's driven with its stylish presentation and unique good looks.

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