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LONG AFTER the last fall of the hammer, there’s pleasure to be had in automotive auction catalogs. Skimming through the Bonham’s catalog from the Greenwich Concours d’Elegance Collectors’ Motorcars and Automobilia, June 5, 2011, I encountered tidbits about a West German flying car, an elemental bit of 1915 transportation, and, at the other extreme, a Great Gatsby Rolls-Royce.
An Automobile With Wings. The Aeromobile was imported from post-World War II West Germany by New York City’s Flare Toy Co. Its box read, “IT’S A CAR! IT’S A PLANE! IT CHANGES AUTOMATICALLY!”
This automotive whimsy is metal, 8 inches long, and went $793. As they say in the auction business, “Well bought, well sold.”
The Smith Flyer, c. 1915. The Smith Flyer is an extreme example of a cyclecar offering mobility of sorts early in the last century. According to the Bonham’s catalog, A.O. Smith Milwaukee produced this charming contraption from 1915 until about 1919 when the manufacturing rights were sold to Briggs & Stratton, the car renamed the Briggs & Stratton Flyer.
In 1914, A.O. Smith bought manufacturing rights to the Wall Motorwheel, devised by Arthur William Wall of Birmingham, England. Originally designed to motorize bicycles, the add-on proved suitable for a simple two-seat buckboard. Bonham’s noted, “Since the 5th wheel was directly driven by the engine, the engine was started with the driving wheel lifted slightly in the air, and then when the engine was running smoothly, the driver lowered the engine (by means of a lever) gently to start forward motion.”
With less than two horsepower on tap, performance was likely modest. But exciting nonetheless, I’ll wager.
The Great Gatsby 1928 Rolls-Royce. This car’s full name is Rolls-Royce 40/50 Phantom I Ascot Dual Cowl Sport Phaeton, Coachwork by Brewster, Chassis no. S304KP, Ascot body no. B-7180. It’s associated with other impressive monikers: Robert Redford, Mia Farrow, Sam Waterston, Bruce Dern, and, of course, F. Scott Fitzgerald.
Phantom I Rolls-Royces have already made an appearance here at SimanaitisSays. This particular example was one of some 3000 American Rolls-Royces produced at the firm’s Springfield, Massachusetts, factory operated between 1921 and 1931. This car’s custom bodywork was done in Long Island City, New York.
There have been four versions of The Great Gatsby: the Alan Ladd movie (1949), the Robert Redford version (1974), a made-for-TV cheapie (2000), and the Leo DiCaprio flick (2013). PrepScholar offers analyses of the four. Briefly, Redford’s had the best cars.
Bonham’s noted, “Selected after a beauty contest cum car show, S304KP was repainted to match Fitzgerald’s description of rich cream and its natrual hide upholstery dyed to the requisite “green leather conservatory.”
I like that: a motorcar with conservatory ambiance. ds
© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays.com, 2019