1908 Oldsmobile Limited Prototype
$550,000 - $750,000
RM | Auctions - HERSHEY 10 - 11 OCTOBER 2019 - The Muckel Collection - Offered on Friday
- Offered from the Muckel Collection
- The sole surviving prototype of one of the largest, most powerful Brass Era machines
- Formerly of the renowned Barney Pollard Collection
- Beautifully detailed restoration by Allan Schmidt
- Ideal for both concours and Brass touring; a true king of the road
THE OLDSMOBILE LIMITED: KING OF THE BRASS ERA
The Limited, as one historian put it, was not your father’s Oldsmobile, unless your father happened to be a Carnegie or a Vanderbilt. It has been called the most prestigious Oldsmobile of its era, but in reality it was the most prestigious car ever built under the name—a true world-beating luxury car developed to challenge Packard, Peerless, and Pierce-Arrow, then the “Three Ps” that signified the height of American motoring.
It was the latest evolution of an Olds that, in the Brass Era, had grown increasingly larger, more powerful, and bolder. In its initial 1910 form, it was based upon the prior Model Z, with the same 130-inch-wheelbase chassis and 505-cubic-inch, 60-horsepower T-head six-cylinder engine. Already, however, it had gained the stature that would make it famous, thanks to immense 42-inch wheels, among the largest fitted to any production automobile, making the Limited literally tower above its brethren.
The Limited was beautifully engineered and exquisitely built, but Oldsmobile soon saw the writing on the wall that less expensive models were the way of the future. It was produced for only three seasons, 1910 through 1912, and afterward Olds models grew progressively more modest, returning to the company’s roots.
Today the Limited is exactly that. Only thirteen examples have survived: a pair of 1910s, ten 1911s, and a single 1912, in addition to the early prototype offered here. Of this group, the vast majority are in either museums—including the Nethercutt Collection, and General Motors’ own Heritage Collection—or in long-term private ownership.
THE LIMITED PROTOTYPE
The example offered here is recognized as having been one of the two Model Z–based 1908 Limited prototypes and is the only one of these known extant today. According to the recollections of Mr. Pollard’s son, it seems to have been sold “out the back door” of General Motors to Barney Pollard via a well-connected friend. Mr. Pollard was one of the most famous names in early American collecting—and we do mean early, as he began gathering significant automobiles in the 1930s. He filled several Detroit warehouses with his finds, eventually stacking them on end and hanging others from the ceiling to maximize the use of space. To facilitate his vertical storage, many of the automobiles had their original bodies removed, and such appears to have been the case with this fascinating Oldsmobile. In this form the car was registered to Mr. Pollard by its engine number in 1978 and was eventually united with a later touring car body during its time in his collection.
The Limited was eventually acquired from a friend of the Pollard family by Ron Carey and Bob Sullivan of Washington State, who undertook a comprehensive full restoration at the hands of respected craftsman Allan Schmidt’s Horseless Carriage Restorations in Escondido, California. Unfortunately, the Pollard body, removed for restoration, was caught in one of the Southern California wildfires and destroyed. The coachwork was thus replaced with the present body, a design based upon the best features of other large Oldsmobiles of the era. These include an externally braced top with isinglass windscreen and “flying”-style fenders. The Limited reportedly retained all of its original mechanical components, including the engine, transmission, suspension, steering, and brakes, and was fitted with correct magneto and carburetor.
The completed restoration was shown to much acclaim, including at the Kirkland Concours d’Elegance in 2010, where it received the Children’s Hospital Award for its rarity and general level of restoration. A year later it was acquired for the Muckel Collection, where it has continued to be well maintained in beautiful overall condition and treasured for its significance.
There are very few extant examples of the Olds Limited, one of the premier American automobiles of its time—unparalleled in size, power, and craftsmanship. None can match the flamboyance of this car, the sole surviving original 1908 prototype for the model, magnificently restored.