Lot 211

Hershey 2019

1908 Cartercar Model D Roadster

The Merrick Auto Museum Collection


$56,100 USD | Sold

United States | Hershey, Pennsylvania



Chassis No.
Engine No.
LB 817 C
  • “Car of a Thousand Speeds”
  • Distinctive friction drive
  • One of two dozen survivors

Byron Carter had been superintendent of the Jackson Automobile Company in Jackson, Michigan. He organized a firm known as the Motorcar Company, but, after moving it to Detroit, changed the name to his own: the Cartercar Company. Convinced that an automobile should have more than two, three, or four speeds, he designed a friction drive unit of “A Thousand Speeds,” operating with two friction disks perpendicular to one another.

The Cartercar was introduced in 1906, with “no clutch to slip…no gears to strip…no universal joints to break…no shaft drive to twist…no bevel gears to wear and howl…no noise to annoy.” Sales rose steadily, if modestly, to 325 by 1908. But that April Byron Carter died of pneumonia, and 18 months later the Cartercar was absorbed into General Motors, where it lasted through 1915.

A very rare example of America’s “Car of a Thousand Speeds,” this Cartercar was previously owned by Joe and Bonita Goss of Indiana. It was acquired by the Merrick Auto Museum in 2006 and is one of just two dozen known to survive. Dark Green with delicate white pinstriping, it has a dark red chassis with similar accents. Its brass Rushmore Searchlight headlamps make a bold impression, complemented by Corcoran brass side and taillamps. There is a Rushmore carbide generator on the left side of the seat.

The driver and passenger sit in diamond-pattern buttoned black leather seats of armchair proportions. The leather shows some age but cleans up well. A folding black canvas cape top can be easily raised when weather worsens, although there is no windshield, so goggles may be a good idea.

A truly distinctive automobile, this rare Cartercar will be an asset to any collection.