Hershey | Lot 159
1911 Chalmers Thirty Pony Tonneau
$71,500 USD | Sold
| Hershey, Pennsylvania
6 October 2016
- Formerly owned by Leslie Henry
- Highly attractive coachwork
- Ideally upgraded for modern touring
- A superb driving car for Brass Era events
30 (rated) hp, 226.2 cu. in. OHV inline four-cylinder engine, three-speed manual transmission, solid front axle with semi-elliptical leaf springs, live rear axle with three-quarter-elliptical leaf springs, and rear-wheel hydraulic drum brakes. Wheelbase: 115 in.
In 1908, National Cash Register magnate Hugh Chalmers bought out the interests of E.R. Thomas in the Thomas–Detroit automobile company and renamed the firm Chalmers–Detroit; in 1911, it was changed simply to Chalmers. The company flourished in the next decade by producing an automobile that was quick, light, and mechanically sophisticated, as well as offering great value for the money. They encouraged a sporty reputation for their automobiles by sponsoring baseball’s Chalmers Award, an early version of the American League Most Valuable Player Award, awarded from 1911 to 1914 (Ty Cobb won the first).
The four-cylinder Chalmers Thirty was well-proven in period contests, most prominently in the 1910 Glidden Tour, a grueling 2,851-mile event, which it won; it was the first car priced under $4,000 (a small fortune at the time) to conquer the Glidden. The following year, the model was updated with a redesigned dashboard, running boards, and radiator emblem, as well as the inclusion of rear doors on all body styles and modern torque-tube drive, replacing the earlier open driveline with U-joints.
The owner, a well-known collector of automobiles of this era, reports that this Thirty has its original chassis frame, engine, and Pony Tonneau body. According to information on file from well-known Brass automobile restorer Stu Laidlaw, the Chalmers was originally restored by its owner at the time, the late Leslie Henry. A revered name in the hobby for decades, Mr. Henry was for many years curator of the transportation collection at The Henry Ford and was responsible for the famous Old Car Festival at Greenfield Village, along with many other events. He was a dedicated AACA member who regularly contributed to Antique Automobile and participated in tours with Brass Era automobiles from his collection; he served as AACA President in both 1954 and 1955.
The Chalmers later passed through the hands of John McAnlis, Bob Hannaford, and finally Ted Beebe of Grosse Pointe, Michigan, himself an automotive engineer who helped to develop the famous Hurst/Olds muscle cars. Mr. Beebe performed the car’s current restoration, during which time its engine was rebuilt for touring with higher-compression pistons and hardened valve seats; the car was also fitted with an electric starter, full-flow oil filter, and a new Dick Runyan radiator, as well as hydraulic brakes in the rear and electric lights for road safety.
Now an attractive older restoration that has been displayed in the owner’s private museum, this beautiful Chalmers would be a proud part of any Brass Era collection.