MotorMartin has looked at the history of electric cars before when discussing the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV at http://motormartin.com/2016/04/24/mitsubishi-outlander-phev-are-friends-electric/ where a timeline was presented that showed how electric cars have progressed from 1834 to 1908. Incredibly, many of the ideas that we think of as new and innovative even now, were first invented and used over 100 years ago. Luckily enough for us, we now have two incredibly rare, electric classic cars from 1906 and 1907, which are set to be auctioned on June 11, and most definitely illustrate that there really is nothing new in this world
In 2009, Boris Johnson commented: “Electric vehicles are a clear example of how technology can provide the solution to the biggest challenge of our generation.” But what the then Mayor of London failed to mention was that the electric car epiphany is not exactly new, as UK classic car auction specialist, Historics at Brooklands, emphasises with the sale of two astonishingly-competent, electrically-propelled cars dating back to manufacture in 1906.
Historics at Brooklands have shared with MotorMartin that the USA built centegenarian duo, an elegantly named 1906 Pope Waverley Victoria Phaeton and 1907 Victor High Wheel Electric Runabout, come to sale at Historics major summer auction at Brooklands Museum, Surrey, UK on Saturday, June 11. Wow. Imagine taking one, or both of these into the centre of London and mixing amongst the PHEVs and Leafs (Leaves?) whilst avoiding the congestion charge and road tax. Marvellous.
The fact that Brooklands – the birthplace of UK motorsport and aviation – was opened in 1907 only adds to the resonance of these electric time warp masterpieces as they come under the hammer.
Much has been said about electric cars over the last few years as many people believe that battery power is the ideal, environmentally friendly solution to the issue of the sustainability of fossil based fuels. Yet, electricity was the power source of choice when personal transport solutions were being designed way back when. And now we have possibly the oldest cars to appear on MotorMartin, these are immensely rare and sought after today even if they were no flashes in the pan at the time they were built. Indeed, emphasising the clamour for electric cars as personal mobility became the mantra and there were over 100 manufacturers of cars powered by a battery in the early 20th century. Unfortunately for battery power, it was the rapid advances in the internal combustion engine and the mass production of cheaper petrol vehicles that sounded the death knoll of the electric car movement.
MotorMartin has been informed that the 1906 Pope Waverley Victoria Phaeton, offered by Historics at an estimate of £30,000-£40,000, sold at the time of its build in Nebraska for some $1,600, and is notable for its supreme presentation. Fully-restored and elegant in the extreme, the convertible features a leather-lined hood, with the additional sumptuous comfort of complementary leg covers. I find it fascinating to think what people must have thought about these amazing vehicles back in the early 1900s, they must have seemed quite magical.
Seating two on the floral print, button-back fabric ‘bench’ seat plus a rear-facing occasional seat, the car is steered by tiller and rudimentary but extremely effective controls to go and stop, that’s not to suggest sports car like handling but, compared to a horse, it’s probably pretty good. With electric coach lamps, it is fully capable of nighttime expeditions but it is in its element with the roof down on a summer’s day.
Brought to the UK by the vendor some years ago, the Pope Waverley is now equipped with modern technology batteries and charging system giving it a very useable range.
The second of these two fantastic vehicles is the very compact 1907 Victor High Wheel Runabout, built one year later in Indianapolis, and has spent many years on display in an American Museum before being imported to the UK, when it was the subject of a complete sympathetic overhaul. This included, MotorMartin has been told, the fitment of contemporary batteries and charging system, and a recent repaint of both the chassis and bodywork, together with black leather upholstery and far from rudimentary patent leather mudguards to protect its inhabitants. As is the case of the Pope Waverley, vision is superb from the high driving position. Perhaps it’s more similar to the Outlander PHEV than MotorMartin first thought.
In much the same as way as today’s electric vehicles the Victor is practically silent when running – all the more so thanks to minimal solid tyre contact. Perhaps today’s EV manufacturers could take a cue from the Victor, which is equipped with a large bell on the driver’s side so pedestrians are aware of its stately approach. Now that is a feature I’d love to see. Perhaps it could be an option Nissan?
In common with the 1906 Pope Waverley, much interest in this equally rare and sought after Victor is anticipated at its estimate of £30,000-£40,000.
Motor Martin must agree with Historics at Brooklands that these magnificent examples of electric cars from more than a century ago are two of the highlights of 139 fine classic motor cars, across a wide range of values and marques, spanning ten decades, on sale on Saturday, June 11th at Historics at Brooklands, Surrey, where all consignments can be viewed on the Thursday and Friday prior.
Full consignments and information are available to view at www.historics.co.uk, or contact Historics at Brooklands on 01753 639170, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Two fantastic vehicles that surely deserve their place in motoring history.
Where will you go?