1903 Marble Swift Runabout SOLD
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Estimate: $40,000-$60,000 US

Offered Without Reserve

AUCTION RESULTS: Lot was Sold at a price of $82,500

Inline three-cylinder L-head engine, variable-speed friction transmission, solid front axle with 3/4-elliptic leaf springs, 3/4-elliptic leaf spring rear suspension and chain drive. Wheelbase: 83"

In the earliest days of the American automotive industry, hundreds of entrepreneurs were entering the field, some with truly better ideas to offer the clamoring public, others who were just looking for a quick buck. Two of those who thought they had the right idea to get people on the road shared the same first name, George R. Marble and George W. Swift. In July 1903 the trade publication of the day, Horseless Age announced that this duo had completed work on their Chicago assembly plant and a new car would be forthcoming.

Within a few weeks, the first Marble-Swift runabouts were rolling off the assembly line and sales were strong. Fitted with a 16 hp two-cylinder engine, it was a rather basic vehicle that was treated to above average workmanship. What made this car unique was its method of powering the wheels through a friction-drive method as described in an issue of Motor Age, “two large metal discs attached to short cross shafts attached to the frame, each of which carries a driving sprocket.”

Sales were good and profits sufficient enough to warrant an investment in future product development, to which Mr. Swift, the mechanical genius behind the marque, was already working on new improved version. By late 1903, his prototype was completed, coming up with a novel new engine design using three-cylinders. However, this idea was not to see production, as a larger displacement 18/22 hp four-cylinder engine had also been developed and would go into these cars until they went out of business in the fall of 1905.

It is the one of a kind historic experimental three-cylinder runabout that we are honored to offer. While the complete history of this prototype has been lost to the ages, it was evidently sold off when the assets of the company were acquired by J.A.Windsor.

Having been a part of the McMullen Collection since the late 1980s, it had been treated to a cosmetic restoration earlier in its life and accordingly displays noticeable signs of ageing. Finished in an original shade of red with black pin striping, popular in its day, it is fitted with seats covered in black leather. Original brass lamps, fittings and accessories set off this unique little car with its proper wood spoke wheels and period fenders, which are believed to be original to the car.

What makes this Marble-Swift tri-cylinder so appealing is that it has not been previously shown or toured and would certainly be an attention grabber wherever it is exhibited. With its age verified, it is sure to be qualified for participation in such rallies as the London-Brighton Run and would also be welcomed to take part in any early Horseless Carriage event.

Please note that this lot is sold on a bill of sale only.

Reference Number 8701

as of 4/18/2007

Car 1903 Marble Swift Runabout
VIN 003 
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