Lot 405

Hershey 2023

1915 Cole Model 850-J Roadster


$46,750 USD | Sold

United States | Hershey, Pennsylvania



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  • A fine and technologically advanced CCCA Full Classic of remarkable rarity and distinction
  • One of only two surviving V-8-powered Cole examples from the model year, and one of fewer than 80 extant Cole models in general
  • Powered by its correct-type 346 cu.-in. Northway V-8 engine and three-speed transmission
  • Benefits from a great deal of mechanical and cosmetic refurbishment executed under the consignor’s care
  • Driven over 1,000 miles on HCCA tours since engine rebuild in 2018
  • Offered from the collection of Bryan Keysor

By the age of 35, Joseph Jarrett Cole was already a wealthy businessman with many successful ventures to his name, perhaps none more important than his eponymous carriage-manufacturer-turned-automaker, the Cole Motor Car Company of Indianapolis. Between 1903 and 1925 the company produced and shipped approximately 40,000 automobiles, all of them benefitting from Cole’s successful manufacturing model whereby staff engineers partnered with industry suppliers to produce their own version of “standardized” parts. Cole’s inline-six and—post-1917—exclusively V-8 model lineup was priced in direct competition with the likes of Cadillac, Lozier, and Stearns-Knight. Sales were robust within the segment until 1922.

Despite the company’s quiet liquidation in 1925, there remains much irrefutable merit to Cole’s engineering and design, particularly as it relates to early V-8 models, such as the first-year 850 Roadster offered here. Better developed and with notably easier serviceability than Cadillac’s competing “monoblock” V-8 engine, the Cole’s 346 cubic-inch, 70-horsepower flathead unit as found in this 1915 Model 850-J Roadster features an iron block, removable cylinder heads, and bronze Stromberg “Series H” updraft carburetor. Cole offered the Model 850 three-passenger roadster for $1,785, nearly $300 less than a similarly-bodied Cadillac Model 53.

Cole 850-J number 27159 is a prize of rare and distinctive quality; it is one of just 79 surviving examples of the Cole marque, and one of only two extant V-8-powered chassis from the 1915 model year. Benefitting from a previous high-quality and well-kept restoration, whose quality is plainly evident and with gentle patina throughout, 27159 is today presented in a rich maroon body with black-clad fenders over sumptuous black leather upholstery and a matching roadster top and boot.

This Cole 850-J was acquired by the consignor in 2017 out of long-term storage and retains much luster from its previous restoration, likely completed prior to 1990. Under the consignor’s purview, it has been additionally furnished with four new wooden artillery-spoke wheels, a complete exhaust system, an engine rebuild, as well as new leather upholstery and matching top boot. Its attractive qualities are further enriched by the presence of Johnson triple-action tubular shocks, a pair of dual, rear-mounted tire tubes, a Boyce MotoMeter, and correct Delco electricals.

Put simply, this Cole Model 850-J Roadster is a fine relic of immense significance, representing one of the earliest and most technologically innovative V-8 engine designs put into production by an American manufacturer of the Brass Era.