HomeThe MarketCentury-old automobiles readied for Bonhams auction in Florida

Century-old automobiles readied for Bonhams auction in Florida


Editor’s note: The ClassicCars.com Journal is your source for Amelia Island news – from collector car auctions and shows to the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance. Read more of our coverage on our dedicated page.

Even though the generation that drove them is long gone, interest in automobiles from the dawn of motoring more than a century ago has been growing, along with a fascination for the engineering solutions of the early innovators who produced them and made them run.

Two dozen Pioneer, Veteran and Brass Era automobiles from 1899 to 1914 will be presented at Bonhams’ Amelia Island Auction in the sale of the Don C. Boulton Collection.   Two antique motorcycles and number of pieces of early automobilia from the collection also will be offered.

1913 Mercer Model 35 J Runabout

The automobiles include a very rare 1908 Welch Model 4 Seven-Seat Tourer formerly owned by Bill Harrah and featured on the front cover of Ralph Stein’s innovative book, The Treasury of the Automobile; a 1904 Peerless Type 8 Four-Cylinder 24hp Rear Entrance Tonneau; a sporty 1913 Mercer Model 35 J Runabout; and a renowned example of a 1914 Simplex Speedcar.

“As with most cars of this age, those in the Boulton Collection have wonderful stories to tell,” Bonhams says in a news release. “One, for example, is the 1910 Pope Hartford Model T Limousine that was originally owned by Uruguay’s ambassador to the Vatican and in which Pope Pius X was reported to have ridden.”

1914 Simplex Speedcar

Among the other marques represented are Austin, Columbus, Haynes, Knox, Locomobile, Matheson, Oldsmobile, Packard, Pierce-Arrow, Rambler and Tincher.

The late Don Boulton, an Oklahoma City resident, was well-known for his passion and enthusiasm for pre-Great War motorcars, Bonhams notes. He was a former national president and lifelong member of the Horseless Carriage Club of America, and was considered one of the hobby’s greatest ambassadors.

“Don Boulton’s name is synonymous with these great cars,” Malcolm Barber, Bonhams co-chairman and active Brass Era enthusiast, said in the news release. “His undying support and energetic advocacy inspired many of us around the world. He collected from an early age, beginning in the 1950s, and with a critical eye for rarity and powerful cars.”

1904 Peerless Type 8 Four-Cylinder 24hp Rear Entrance Tonneau

Bonhams pointed out that some of the earliest cars could be entered in a very special annual event in the UK.

“Also of great importance is the fact that no less than seven Boulton cars could be eligible for the annual London-to-Brighton Emancipation Run, the world’s longest continuously held automobile run, and an event for which entries are limited to cars of 1904 and earlier,” Bonhams said.

The Bonhams auction takes place March 7 at the Fernandina Beach Golf Club on Amelia Island, Florida.   For more information, visit the auction website.


Bob Golfen
Bob Golfen
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.


  1. 1908 Welch was never in Harrahs collection or owned by Harrah..my father Ralph Stein and his friend Henry Austin Clark found this car in a barn on long island..my father bought it and had it restored by Ralph Buckley in New Jersey..This was In early to mid 1950s…when I was growing up in Westbrook Ct. It was always in our garage until my father sold it.. Jon Stein

    • I recently bought Ralph Stein’s book The American Automobile at a local second hand store and I am thoroughly enjoying it. The photographs are fantastic and Ralph’s narrative and personal experience with the vehicles is so great and interesting. I just bought three of his other hardbacks on automobiles from Amazon and really look forward to getting those books. I recently purchased my own 1930 Ford Model A, and I am thoroughly enjoying studying the history of the American Automobile. Best regards, Peter Sproul


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