1912 Hupmobile Model 20 Runabout

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The Hupmobile's tall wheels and short length gives it a sporty look
The Hupmobile’s tall wheels and short length gives it a sporty look

All the fine Brass Era autos shown at the Pebble Beach Concours whetted my appetite for a relic from the dawn of motoring. So here we have a Hupmobile, which might not be a familiar name today, but it was a leading brand back in the early days and through the 1920s, producing cars that were affordable yet distinctive.

The Pick of the Day is a 1912 Hupmoble Model 20, a two-seat runabout that appears to be in excellent restored condition, and which the seller says is “a distinguished Brass Era car that’s ready to leave here on a Saturday and win awards on that Sunday.”

The runabout is said to be restored and ready to drive
The runabout is said to be restored and ready to drive

“This roadster was the car that helped establish Hupmobile a few years prior with unique styling elements that combined tall wheels with a short wheelbase to make a package that looked quite sporty for the era,” the Charlotte, North Carolina, classic car dealer says in the advertisement on ClassicCars.com.

“The presentation of this car is exceptional,” the seller adds. “The red paint and pale yellow pinstriping do a fantastic job of attracting a crowd from across a show field without being too ostentatious. Then as the masses gather, those who know these horseless carriages get immediately impressed with the details.

“The two-piece windshield, full folding top, and all that polished brass (including the iconic carbide headlights,) it’s all part of a great restoration/preservation that is often hard to find as a complete package today.”

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The runabout is powered by a 3.0-liter 4-cylinder engine that the listing notes has output similar to that of a Ford Model T despite its larger displacement. Coupled with a two-speed transmission, the Hupmobile might be challenging to drive on today’s roads, “but let’s face it, you’re not looking at this to be your next speed machine,” the seller says.

“Owning a car like this means being a knowledgeable driver. You take pride in being able to adjust the car’s function from the side controls, two-speed transmission and steering wheel.”

What this vintage machine is all about is gracious style, sporty demeanor and nostalgic charm. The Hupmobile seems like a bargain for such a rarity with an asking price of $33,995, which would provide entry into a whole world of car collectors who love the simple joys and challenges of early vehicles.

“This roadster is approaching its 105th birthday,” the dealer adds, “and may we all survive so long and look this good doing it.”

To view this listing on ClassicCars.com, see Pick of the Day

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Bob Golfen is a longtime automotive writer and editor, focusing on new vehicles, collector cars, car culture and the automotive lifestyle. He is the former automotive writer and editor for The Arizona Republic and SPEED.com, the website for the SPEED motorsports channel. He has written free-lance articles for a number of publications, including Autoweek, The New York Times and Barrett-Jackson auction catalogs. A collector car enthusiast with a wide range of knowledge about the old cars that we all love and desire, Bob enjoys tinkering with archaic machinery. His current obsession is a 1962 Porsche 356 Super coupe.