Lot 148

St. John's 2012

1922 Milburn Electric Light Brougham


$56,100 USD | Sold

United States Flag | Plymouth, Michigan



Chassis No.

Model 27L. 76-volt General Electric DC electric motor, controller with four forward speeds and two reverse speeds, solid front axle and live rear axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs, and two-wheel mechanical brakes. Wheelbase: 105"

• Handsome, late Milburn Electric

• Superb restoration

• Magnificent petit-point embroidered interior

• Offered from the Estate of John O’Quinn

At the dawn of the automobile age, steam, internal combustion, and electricity vied for popularity. Internal combustion won out over steam when gasoline engines became reliable and convenient to operate. Electric cars suffered from limited range and lack of infrastructure, for homes without electricity lacked the means to recharge batteries.

Thus the golden age of the electric car did not begin until 1910, when electric mains had reached a significant portion of the US population. The Milburn Wagon Company, of Toledo, Ohio, entered the business in 1914. An advantage of the Milburn was a battery pack on rollers, allowing fresh batteries to be quickly installed, eliminating the downtime for charging. Most Milburns were of the high-roof “phone booth” style, but a roadster, a delivery van, and a town car were also available. Sales were brisk at first, 1,000 cars in 1915 and 1,500 the next year. From 1919, the Light Brougham, a basic coupe, became the standard model. In 1923, when the vogue of the electric car had faded, production ceased, and the factory was sold to General Motors.

This 1922 Milburn Light Brougham was owned for many years by Col. David E. Wolff, of Closter, New Jersey. The Colonel was very fond of it, and it was reportedly a national award winner. When purchased by collector James Cousens, it was aged considerably; Cousens undertook a frame-up restoration in 2006 with Bill Hallett, of Clarkston, Michigan. The O’Quinn Collection purchased the car thereafter.

Finished in an elegantly understated silver-grey with black fenders, this Milburn exhibits a gracefulness uncommon in electric coupes of the period. The interior is nothing short of spectacular, with intricate petit-point embroidery in a very high-fashion motif. A superb example of the handsome Milburn Electric, this car will be an asset to any collection.