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Lot 39
1911 Chalmers 30 Roadster


Selling on Wednesday

Offered from a Private Collection


• An original chassis, engine and body example
• Excellent paint and trim with highly detailed pinstriping throughout
• A true luxury car in an era dominated by spartan vehicles
• Expertly cared for during long-term ownership in a fine collection
• Impressive 30 horsepower engine

Inline four-cylinder engine, 30 HP, three-speed manual transmission, solid front axle with elliptic leaf springs, live rear axle with 3/4 elliptic leaf springs, rear-wheel drum brakes; wheelbase: 115”

In 1908, National Cash Register magnate Hugh Chalmers was invited by Roy D. Chapin to join him in acquiring the Thomas–Detroit automobile company, manufacturer of the renowned Thomas Flyer. Eventually Chalmers bought out Chapin and renamed the firm Chalmers–Detroit. By 1911, the company’s identity was changed to simply Chalmers. The company flourished in the next decade by producing an automobile that was quick, light, and mechanically sophisticated, as well as offering great value for the money. They developed a sporty reputation for their automobiles by sponsoring baseball’s Chalmers Award, an early version of the American League Most Valuable Player Award, which was awarded from 1911 to 1914. Ty Cobb won the first award, and received a brand-new Chalmers 30 Roadster, almost identical to this car. Chalmers had successfully positioned the Model 30 as a desirable luxury car with tremendous durability, and it was highly sought-after by some of the wealthiest American automobile enthusiasts. The company flourished building desirable and expensive cars through the teens, with client names such as Rockefeller and Marriott among their proponents, but faltered during the 1922 post-war recession. Chalmers and the Maxwell Automobile Company were combined for a short time, and eventually became the basis for the new Chrysler Corporation.

The four-cylinder Chalmers 30 was well-proven in period contests, most prominently in the 1910 Glidden Tour, which was a grueling 2,851-mile event. The Chalmers won the event, and it was the first production car priced under $2,000 to conquer the Glidden. The following year, in 1911, the model 30 was updated with a redesigned dashboard, running boards, and a new radiator emblem. It was propelled by torque-tube drive, replacing the earlier open driveline with easily serviced U-joints. The engine was designed by Howard Coffin, and the four-cylinder cast-in-block features an innovative ball bearing crankshaft and overhead intake valve with side exhaust valves.

This model 30 from 1911 has its original chassis, engine, and roadster body, and is nicely finished in bright red and black. It has been carefully housed in a fine collection for about two decades and has received regular maintenance and limited use. It has a jaunty newer top with the correct rear window treatment, brass lamps and trim, and a foldable windscreen for use during open-air motoring. The upholstery appears to be a mix of original with some restored panels, and does show some wear; but overall, the interior remains beautiful and highly functional. The paint and finish present well, with excellent pinstriping, and the pinstriped wooden wheels and whitewall tires also remain very serviceable. Our consignor reports it has always started easily. The engine bay remains bone stock without major leaks or stains - a testament to the care it has always received. A strong and impressive car for its age, the high bidder will enjoy unlimited access to nearly any tour or Concours events, and that very lucky new owner will undoubtedly receive the same attention and prestige that the affluent enjoyed some 110 years ago.

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