Call:  216-496-9292
1911 Locomobile Model M 7-Passenger Touring - Sold
VMC Stock ID: 132182
Mileage: 1566
VIN: 4838
Engine: 475 cubic inch T-head inline-6
Transmission: 4-speed manual
Exterior Color: Dark Green
Interior Color: Black leather
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1911 Locomobile Model M 7-Passenger Touring

In a private collection since the late 1950s or early 1960s, it has not been seen publicly for decades, yet remains in eminently usable and downright spectacular condition today.
J. J. Best Banc & Co.

For those of you unfamiliar with Locomobile, it was founded in 1898 building steam cars, but by 1902, their focus shifted to gasoline-powered engines and catering to upscale clients. Quickly developing a reputation for performance and quality, the slogan “The best-built car in America” was coined and it wasn’t just hyperbole. With a bespoke factory in Bridgeport, Connecticut, Locomobile cast, machined, and assembled their cars from raw materials, save for bodies, which were farmed out to some of the biggest names in the business. If this sounds familiar, it’s also what Rolls-Royce was doing in England.

By 1911, it was clear that the motorcars were here to stay, and Locomobile joined Pierce and Peerless in what many consider the first horsepower war by building the Model M. Its serial number was 4617, or the four thousand, six hundred seventeenth automobile manufactured by Locomobile. It was a Model M and as the first of its kind, a Series 1. Hence it is a 1911 Model M-48-1. There were only three Series 1 cars built, although Locomobile also continued building the 4-cylinder Model I during this period in much greater numbers. In 1912 the next Model M-48 with some changes became Series 2 (M-48-2) and was given serial number 4931. A total of 504 Series 2 Locomobiles were built and in the middle of 1913, new changes to the Model M were incorporated and the Series 3 came out with number 5940.

This particular 1911 Locomobile Model M 7-passenger touring, serial number 4838, is likely the last of those first three Series 1 cars built in 1911, and one of only two known to exist today. It carries its original engine and C.P. Kimball touring body, and appears to be in largely original condition save for a single repaint and a new top decades ago. In a private collection since the late 1950s or early 1960s, it has not been seen publicly for decades, yet remains in eminently usable and downright spectacular condition today. Our best guess is that the body was repainted in its original Brewster Green with contrasting black fenders right about the time the previous owner acquired it—some 60 years ago—but it still looks fantastic today. There are very few signs of age and since the car has been scarcely used for decades, there’s very little wear. The paint has a proper look to it, not the hard shine of a modern finish but a vintage shine that is a big part of the appeal of an early motorcar such as this. The Kimball bodywork is straight, rust-free, and fitted to wood that remains in excellent condition with no issues to be found. All the doors open and close with precision, the fenders haven’t been blasted by gravel, and even the long hood shows only a few cracks along the hinge, which is typical of the era.

The brass trim remains complete and with a lovely patina that suits the car quite nicely. It could easily be polished to a blinding shine if that’s your desire, but as it sits today, it has a wonderful all-of-a-piece look where the paint, upholstery, and brass all complement each other in a steady state of preservation. The original acetylene-fired headlamps retain their ‘Locomobile’ script on top, the Solar-branded cowl lamps are kerosene-fired, and there’s a single taillamp out back powered by the same running-board-mounted gas cylinder as the headlamps.

The black leather interior is original. Yes, that’s 101-year-old leather in there, and its condition is a testament to the easy life and expert care the car has received. Both front and rear seats remain fully usable and very presentable with minimal checking and cracking due to age. The rear carpets are surely newer than the leather, but look right and fit quite nicely. Some exploration reveals a storage compartment under the rear floor that appears intended as a rudimentary metal-lined heater, perhaps designed to hold a few lumps of glowing coal. Remove the rear seat cushion and there is additional storage, plus a second body number stamping, 5566, which matches that stamped into the brass plate at the base of the back seat pedestal. It is our belief that the top was replaced when the paint was done, sometime in the ‘50s or ‘60s, but it remains easy to fold and not brittle, so you should have no fears about using this car as intended. There are no side curtains, and it does not appear that the car has ever had provisions for such, and part of its recent recommissioning has been the re-creation of many of the leather straps and belts that hold the various pieces of the top in place.

The instrument panel offers simple controls for the ignition (it will run on battery or magneto), an oil pressure gauge, switches for the instruments lamps on the dash, and a mixture control with priming lever for the carburetor. The large 2-pole Bosch switch’s function is not known, but it is not connected to anything under the hood so it may have been a later addition sometime in the car’s long history. Accessories include the large Jones 60 MPH speedometer and clock, which, remarkably, both work properly. Spark and throttle controls are on the steering wheel, but the floor pedals are familiar: clutch on the left, brake on the right and foot throttle in the center, as was common at the time. It’s likely that the linoleum on the front floors was replaced, but we can’t confirm when or even if—it may very well be as well preserved as the rest of the interior.

The real appeal of this Locomobile, however, is the running gear. With a 475 cubic inch T-head inline-six, it is one of only a handful of 100-year-old cars able to run with modern traffic at virtually any reasonable speed. Rated at 48 horsepower like all the large “road locomotives” were, the true number is perhaps more than twice that figure, with massive torque at virtually any speed. Thanks to a recent and extensive servicing by Steve Littin at Vintage and Auto Rebuilds, it starts easily and runs extremely well. A modern 12V starter and battery were added, with a custom ring gear fitted to the original flywheel, so the system is seamless and reliable. The magneto was re-wound, the carburetor was rebuilt, and a new gas tank was fabricated to match the original exactly. The original bronze crankcase is a magnificent piece of early casting and machining, and we believe the engine has been rebuilt at some point in the past due to the use of aluminum alloy pistons in place of the original cast iron pieces, which likely weighed more than 3 pounds each!

Riding on a massive 142-inch wheelbase, the Locomobile actually rides quite well, and despite its great size, is remarkably maneuverable. The engine’s massive torque is available at any speed in any gear, and it is happy to idle in top gear at 5 MPH and will accelerate to at least 60 MPH and beyond, depending on your bravery. With those tall tires, it cruises comfortably at 50 MPH, and shifting is crude but something that becomes easier with familiarity. External contracting brakes on the rear wheels mean that any stop should be planned well in advance, but for their age and design, they are quite effective and are capable of locking up the rear wheels in an emergency. Note that the front and rear wheels are different sizes, and that the dual spares out back include one of each size. The Universal whitewalls are probably several decades old, so any touring should be done only after a set of fresh rubber has been installed.

This Locomobile Model M represents the pinnacle of brass-era performance, comfort, and desirability. There’s no question that high-horsepower brass cars are highly-sought collectables, and with this remarkably preserved specimen that has been out of circulation for decades, the smart collector is now offered a unique opportunity to debut a significant vehicle at any show on Earth, or to enjoy high-performance brass touring in first-class fashion. Many dealers claim that certain cars represent a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, but this is truly an instance where it is indisputably true. A remarkable machine for the big brass enthusiast.

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