Hershey | Lot 286
1923 American LaFrance Speedster
$66,000 USD | Sold
| Hershey, Pennsylvania
12 October 2012
200 hp, 527 cu. in. American LaFrance Model J overhead valve V-12 engine, three-speed manual transmission with double chain drive, solid front axle with semi-floating rear axle and semi-elliptic leaf springs, and two-wheel mechanical drum brakes. Wheelbase: 118 in.
• Built in the spirit of the early high-horsepower speedsters
• Many original American LaFrance components
On the short list of ultimate hot rods, there has to be room for an American LaFrance speedster. The company did build a small handful of two-seater vehicles, which were theoretically reserved for use by fire chiefs, but most of which were ultimately sold to ALF executives. This unique vehicle was handcrafted using period correct accessories over a two-year period by J.S. Hadley, of Delaware, some decades ago. Chassis 5022 dates from 1923 and is believed to have originally been from a pumper truck. Mated to it is a low-mileage 200 horsepower American LaFrance V-12 engine, which was a rare find and produces a throaty exhaust roar. These engines were designed in the 1940s and derived from the twelves designed and built by Lycoming.
This speedster was built in the spirit of not only the LaFrances but also the Stutz Bearcat and the Mercer Raceabout. It retains early LaFrance features, like the signature cast aluminum floor pans and brass-trimmed instruments, and it is also equipped with an enormous period brass searchlight built by the Portable Light Co., of New York, New York. Other features include the Vesta drum-style headlights, Royce MotoMeter, monocle windshield, dual gas tanks, dual rear-mounted spares, and original 25-inch wood wheels with Goodyear script tires.
It is reported that when driving this machine, Hadley got it up to a speed of 75 mph before coming to his senses and letting off the gas. Finished in white with maroon trim and black seat upholstery, this LaFrance speedster announces its oncoming presence long before it can be seen and would make a great parade car that is sure to get plenty of attention at any venue.