Lot 258

Hershey 2013

1929 Gardner Model 120 Roadster


$49,500 USD | Sold

United States Flag | Hershey, Pennsylvania



Chassis No.
  • Offered from the Estate of John O’Quinn
  • One of America’s finest forgotten marques
  • A very sporty and attractive body style
  • Factory four-wheel hydraulic brakes

76 bhp, 225.7 cu. in. Lycoming L-head inline eight-cylinder engine, three-speed manual transmission, four-wheel semi-elliptic leaf-spring suspension with semi-floating rear axle, and four-wheel internal expanding hydraulic brakes. Wheelbase: 122 in.

Russell Gardner manufactured buggies and distributed Chevrolets in the St. Louis area before introducing his own automobile in 1909. Like many of its era, the Gardner was what was termed an “assembled car,” meaning that it was put together in St. Louis but utilized components that were mostly produced by other, larger manufacturers. The Gardner was distinguished, however, by its beautiful, elegant design and by its use of only the best components available. It was also among the first mid-priced automobiles to incorporate technically advanced features seen only in larger, grander automobiles.

Unfortunately, like so many of its brethren, the “Distinctively Different Motor Car” was undone by the Great Depression, and the company folded in 1932, leaving behind a legacy of well-built automobiles under a respected name.

The Model 120 Roadster offered here ranks among Gardner’s sportiest offerings in 1929, and it shows the clear influence of Harley Earl’s Cadillac designs on the company’s styling. Most importantly, it is very advanced for the period in which it was built, as it is equipped with Lockheed four-wheel hydraulic brakes and Lovejoy front shock absorbers, both of which were standard equipment, and a 4.45:1 gearing, versus the 4.9:1 gears employed in closed Gardner models.

The body is finished in a snazzy two-tone tan, which is both exciting and correct to this model, as are the orange-painted wire wheels, side-mounted spares, external trunk, and Gardner’s griffin radiator mascot. The interior is upholstered in tasteful brown leather, and it comes with a complementary tan cloth top. Overall, this car looks exactly as one would have expected to see in an advertisement in the pages of Automobile Trade Journal, announcing the model’s triumphant debut.

Surviving Gardner automobiles are few and far between. In all likelihood, this is one of the finest, and certainly the sportiest, to be found. It remains “Distinctively Different,” making it the sort of high-quality and unusual find for which passionate enthusiasts have come to Hershey for decades. This Gardner would be an outstanding addition to any collection of American “obscuriana,” and it would be a splendid car for AACA tours.