1911 Selden Model 40R Varsity Roadster
Sold For $159,500Inclusive of applicable buyer's fee.
RM | Auctions - HERSHEY 10 - 11 OCTOBER 2019 - The Muckel Collection
- Offered from the Muckel Collection
- One of just six known surviving Selden automobiles
- Known, well-researched ownership history since new
- Older Pebble Beach award-winning concours restoration
- Accompanied by literature and an impressive history file
- A significant and storied name from American auto-making history
On 5 November 1895, George B. Selden was granted a patent for an internal-combustion engine and its use in an automobile. Selden was aggressive in his pursuit of royalties, eventually gathering a 0.75 percent stake in all cars sold by the Association of Licensed Automobile Manufacturers, as denoted by the presence of a “Selden Patent” plate on early American automobiles sold at the time. The royalty gravy train came to a halt in 1911, when a bruising eight-year trial instigated by Henry Ford ended with a judge’s ruling that the modern internal-combustion automobile engine was, in fact, not related to Selden’s design.
What is little remembered today is that Selden also built his own automobile, establishing the Selden Motor Company in Rochester, New York, in 1907. The firm produced its first car in 1909 and continued through 1912. The Selden automobile was a fine-quality, upper-mid-priced automobile of attractive design, including the 40R Varsity Roadster of 1911, a lovely, sporting job with a “mother-in-law” seat and 40-horsepower, 356 cu. in. four-cylinder engine on a 125-inch-wheelbase chassis.
The 40R Varsity Roadster offered here is one of only six Selden automobiles extant and has a known history back to the original owner, a Rochester local by the name of Fred Todd. According to Mr. Todd’s daughter, Harriet Keutmann, in conversations with later owner Bob Mahoney, the car was acquired directly from Mr. Selden, a fellow Rochester businessman. A photo in the file, a copy of which was provided by Mrs. Keutmann, shows the Selden “rumble seat roadster” at a family picnic in 1913!
Mr. Todd owned the Selden until his death in 1927, repurposing it in later years as a truck on the family apple orchard. In 1953 it was acquired from the Todd heirs by Clarence Sharp. The car passed through two generations of the Sharp family, then was sold in 1983 to Bob Rohrer of Pittsford, New York. Enthusiast Bob Mahoney of Leicester, New York, acquired the Selden in 1991 and completed its meticulous restoration, including re-creating the original coachwork and sourcing proper brass lights, by 1996. The result received AACA Senior Grand National honors, the prestigious AACA Cup, and in 1997 even appeared at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, winning 2nd in Class.
John Muckel acquired the Selden for his collection in 2007, after 104 years in the Rochester area, and it has been much enjoyed now for over a decade. Well-preserved and still very snazzy in its white-and-grey livery with cherry-red upholstery, this Selden is a real treat—both a peppy, well-designed automobile to drive, and a conversation piece for the astute historian of American automotive history.