Lot 238

Arizona 2012

1901 Duryea Four-Wheel Phaeton


$96,250 USD | Sold

United States Flag | Phoenix, Arizona



Chassis No.
Addendum: Please note based on knowledge of comparable Duryeas, their chassis numbers corresponding model years it is believed this car is a 1904 not a 1901.

10 hp, three-cylinder engine, two-speed transmission, leaf-spring suspension. Wheelbase: 66"

• Offered from the Estate of John O’Quinn

• Early four-wheeled horseless carriage

• Former AACA award-winner

In automotive circles, the Duryea name is revered for its creation in 1893 of what is generally considered the first successful gasoline-powered car built in the United States. Credit for its initial conception goes to Charles Duryea, who was inspired by H.K. Sanks’ gasoline engine at the Ohio State Fair. In the early 1890s, his brother Frank completed assembly of their first single-cylinder engine. Producing just four horsepower, it was cloaked by a buggy-type body, with the cylinder head extending rearward over the axle. The water-cooled engine featured make-and-break electric ignition and was mated to a transmission comprised of bevel and spur gears operated by vertical movement of the steering tiller.

After a successful first test in Springfield, Massachusetts and with its subsequent racing victories at home and abroad, the newly founded Duryea Motor Wagon Company became the first American car company to move beyond “one-off” vehicles into more substantial production. The brothers went their separate ways in the late 1890s, and in March 1900, Charles Duryea relocated to Pennsylvania, where he joined with Herbert Sternbergh, “son of the richest man in town, an iron-master of the highest character and ability,” and organized the Duryea Power Company of Reading.

The restored 1901 Duryea Four-Wheeled Phaeton offered here fittingly represents both the company’s geographic transition from Peoria to Reading and its abandonment of three-wheeled vehicles, if not its continued insistence on the tiller steering arrangement. Its prior owners were George and Arlene Cairns, who won the AACA’s W. Emmet Swigart Memorial Cup with it in 1994. In August 2006, the vehicle joined the private automobile collection from which it is now offered, where it has enjoyed proper, climate-controlled storage. By virtue of its model year, it could be eligible for London-to-Brighton Veteran Car Run participation and is certainly a handsome example of the earliest days of American motoring.