Lot 275

Hershey 2017

1904 Holsman Model 3 'High-Wheel' Roadster


$35,200 USD | Sold

United States | Hershey, Pennsylvania



Chassis No.
  • Pioneering American “high-wheeler” automobile
  • Long-term history in the Antique Automobile Club of America
  • Charming, patinaed appearance

The high-wheeler is a uniquely American vehicle, as it was essentially a horseless carriage that was built to adapt to the deplorable road conditions common at the time. Ground clearance was at a premium. While high-wheelers looked like the good ole’ buckboard buggy that had been meeting the needs of farmers for years, they had the ability to function . . . horseless.

Henry Holsman, the founder of the Holsman Automobile Company of Chicago, Illinois, was on to something, and his design was an exercise in simplicity. Initially, the driveline was manila rope, which proved unsatisfactory after it sustained wet-weather use. Later, Holsman and his associate, C. H. Bryan, devised a chain braided over with manila and steel wire, and then they finally adapted to the chain alone. Steering is by a right-hand tiller, while its brakes are hand-operated and applied directly against the solid rubber tires.

The Model 3 Roadster offered here was owned in 1961 by James B. Howell, who recorded it with the Antique Automobile Club of America that year. Part of a museum collection for many years, it is finished in the classic Holsman livery of black with red trim, and features the spindly wooden wheels and solid rubber tires characteristic of the model. Much of the vehicle exhibits significant, charming patina, including the engine and drivetrain.

A Holsman is, simply put, one of the most evocative American automobiles of its era, recalling a day and time long since passed. This is no exception, and it would be the ideal addition to any collection of turn-of-the-century Americana.