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Is this 1898 Locomobile the oldest running unrestored car?


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I edit and publish the Steam Automobile Bulletin. We have been asked about this car, but we are not the last word in automotive history. The car is well documented. It was the first car in Stillwater, Minnesota, maintained but not ever restored, etc. It runs fine. The second owner (since 1930) maintained the car and drove it frequently. His wife put a ramp so it could be kept in the front parlor in the winter. The son-in-law has phoned and written and we will be publishing a two page photo article in a week or so.

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It may be the oldest in the US. I believe there is at least one older unrestored car in England, a one off hand built 2 cylinder job and possibly one or 2 in Europe. I have a vague memory of an 1892 Panhard that was in regular use by a priest in France until the 1920s, that is now preserved. And didn't an 1895 DeDion Bouton sell at auction a year or 2 ago, that had been owned by the same family from new?

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Thanks, Rusty!. The cars you mention are not running and unrestored. I am referring to an item like George Pattinson's steam launch Dolly which was running on its original hull, boiler and engine, despite having been submerged for a century, when I spent the afternoon on it in in 1971. It is no longer unrestored, however. The De Deon Bouton was older and really extensively restored several times. There are many museum pieces which are older but not running. My European contacts have not come up with anything yet.

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Jim Merrick of the Stanley Museum has just noted: "The name plate and the pressure gauge are both clearly marked "Locomobile" which did not become the company's official tradename until July 1899. Thus if this car was made and sold in 1898, those two items are not original to the car." I do not have any numbers from the engine or elsewhere to check against as yet.

Edited by Karl A Petersen
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There's a gentleman from Holland who at one time had the distinction of having the ship's bell from the Titanic, a 1911 Peerless, and the oldest running car...a circa 1892 Peugeot. I don't know if the Peugeot was restored or not. Most 120-year-old cars need some work, I guess.

Edited by jeff_a (see edit history)
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Karl, I'd be very cautious before assigning superlatives to anything--

"the world's oldest," "the country's largest," "the lowest mileage XXX in existence," etc.

We've all seen too many of those, and usually the claims are dubious.

It's great you're doing research, though the members on the AACA Forum

may not be the last word in encompassing the whole world!

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