I bet nobody guesses this one

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Steve Simmons
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I bet nobody guesses this one

Post by Steve Simmons » Sun Apr 01, 2012 4:40 pm

One trillion points to whoever can guess the make of this car, or anything about its history. Sorry for the poor photo, it was taken on a cell phone at night through a window.
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Martin Keller
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Re: I bet nobody guesses this one

Post by Martin Keller » Sun Apr 01, 2012 5:30 pm

A Locomobile or Howard or Riker clone due to the rims and hubs or a very very early Ford.
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Re: I bet nobody guesses this one

Post by malcolmr18zoy » Sun Apr 01, 2012 6:04 pm

It's not really a good enough picture to see any detail. except the wheels and exhaust look fairly modern. I would guess that it's a fake old car.
Malcolm

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Re: I bet nobody guesses this one

Post by Steve Simmons » Sun Apr 01, 2012 6:11 pm

Well, I fooled even myself. I posted a photo of the wrong car. :oops:

I meant to post a photo of this one, although this photo isn't mine.
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Re: I bet nobody guesses this one

Post by Martin Keller » Sun Apr 01, 2012 7:48 pm

Is it a REO Gentlmens Roadster of about 1908 or 1909.
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Re: I bet nobody guesses this one

Post by Steve Simmons » Sun Apr 01, 2012 10:52 pm

Pretty solid guess, but this is much more obscure. I'll give a hint. As far as I know, this is a one-off.

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Re: I bet nobody guesses this one

Post by HealeyBN7 » Mon Apr 02, 2012 12:01 pm

Steve Simmons wrote:Pretty solid guess, but this is much more obscure. I'll give a hint. As far as I know, this is a one-off.
Sorry Martin but this is a 1905 Burpee Levitator Runabout. It is beautifully displayed in the accounting building of the Burpee seed factory on Ojai on the corner of Ventura and Sycamore. The windows and fine velvet ropes give away the location.

Although you didn't fall into the trap, most folks draw the wrong maker conclusion when looking at the diamond "B" radiator badge, thinking it is a Bentley, but this car predates the earliest of Bentleys. According to Fran Burpee, while on display at Earl's Court, the Levitator caught the attention of Bentley founder, Robert Bentley. Over drinks that evening, she sold the rights to the placement and font we now associate with the letter "B".

According to the Burpee historical foundation, this is also the first "prototype" hybrid utility vehicle. Steve's hint helps with the "prototype" aspect as the Burpee Levitator broke the standing tradition of manufacturing and selling before testing.

Yes, the Burpee LR, never saw production. It was due to traction issues with the levitator assembly, which was originally conceived to transverse over rough terrain. However, with no tread on the tires (not yet invented) when the levitator was activated the vehicle rose and spun wildly out of control. You can see in the display that they are demonstrating the levitator capability, and the wheels loose contact. The text talks about issues on snow, ice but it was concerns from Burpee's grandson, Ralphie that saw the end of the Burpee line

Great find Steve. Thanks for posting,

Dean

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Re: I bet nobody guesses this one

Post by malcolmr18zoy » Mon Apr 02, 2012 12:43 pm

Wow Dean!! I think you missed your vocation. you could have been a great writer of novels. You would have had me completely taken in except for the comments about Bentley. That was where I saw a flaw in your story. Well done. Very interesting.
Malcolm

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Re: I bet nobody guesses this one

Post by Steve Simmons » Mon Apr 02, 2012 1:40 pm

I agree, I was back and forth whether he was serious or not until I got to the levitation part. :lol:

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Re: I bet nobody guesses this one

Post by kiwimark » Tue Apr 03, 2012 5:07 pm

I think it is actually a 1906 Benson

regards
Mark

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Re: I bet nobody guesses this one

Post by Steve Simmons » Tue Apr 03, 2012 11:06 pm

OK, fess up Mark, did you actually know that one or did you do an image search? ;) If you knew it then I'm seriously impressed! Cars don't get a whole lot more obscure than that one.

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Re: I bet nobody guesses this one

Post by kiwimark » Tue Apr 03, 2012 11:14 pm

I actually read about the car a few years back and wonder of wonders the memory sprang forth which for me is the exception rather than the rule. What initially caught my interest in the car was its resemblance to the early Stutz's and Mercer's, cars that I would rather like to own.

Mark

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Re: I bet nobody guesses this one

Post by Martin Keller » Wed Apr 04, 2012 10:03 am

A Benson. That is cool never heard of that one before. Where is on display?

I still think Dean's description is a good one "is a 1905 Burpee Levitator Runabout" it had me until I read the part describing "levitator capability". Good one Dean.

So Steve did I get the first photo correct or what.
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Steve Simmons
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Re: I bet nobody guesses this one

Post by Steve Simmons » Wed Apr 04, 2012 2:55 pm

Well I'm impressed, and Mark gets one trillion points. The car is indeed a 1906 Benson, the first automobile manufactured in Oregon, and the only one built. Below is a history of the car taken from the Oregon Historical Society who has the car on display in their museum in Portland.

Martin, unfortunately I don't know what the other car was! I tend to agree with Malcolm that it's a modern reproduction however, because among other parts, the wheel design looks to be modern.
In the years before Henry Ford developed the automotive assembly line in 1914, untold numbers of tinkerers built cars in their backyards. Nils Benson was one of those "garage inventors." Benson and James Chance, his teen-aged assistant, began building this car in 1904. Benson made some of the parts at his Portland machine shop on SE Grand Avenue. Other parts were obtained from Chicago, while the rubber tires came all the way from Indochina. According to Chance, "It was the first car completely built in Oregon but we never thought nothing about it at the time."

In 1905, Chance ran the car for three months at the Lewis and Clark Fair. Afterwards, a crankshaft and two more cylinders were added before it was officially completed in 1906. The finished car had four cylinders, a seat for two, a box behind the seat for carrying supplies, a "unique feature in…speed changing devices…to prevent stripping the gears," and a patented steering wheel.

Although Benson had planned to build more cars, he did not. This one and only Benson automobile was eventually stored in a shed behind Benson's house on NE 92nd Place. It was sold to a neighbor, William McAllister, in 1951, who in turn sold it to Walter Rusk in 1973. When Rusk offered it as a donation to the Oregon Historical Society in 1999, OHS eagerly accepted this unique automobile as a 3-dimensional example of garage inventors' handiwork.

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Re: I bet nobody guesses this one

Post by malcolmr18zoy » Wed Apr 04, 2012 3:26 pm

That's a really lovely story about how things were done in the infancy of autmobiles. All those years, only four owners, and the whole thing survived without being molested. Wonderful.
Malcolm

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