In 1905, farmer turned machine-shop owner Alfred P. Gatts built five high-wheeler motorcars, each powered by a single-cylinder engine, in Bethel, Ohio.
According to the Standard Catalog of American Cars, he sold the first one for $100. He got $350 for the second and $150 for the third. He kept the last two for his own use. The book notes that Gatts kept tinkering with cars in his machine shop into the 1950s and lived until 1963 and the age of 80.
It also notes that the one 1905 Gatts high-wheeler that survives was the one he sold to William Burkel for $150. That 1905 Gatts is the Pick of the Day and is being offered for sale by a dealership in Missouri through an advertisement on ClassicCars.com.
“The vehicles were very similar to the popular designs of the day,” the advertisement notes “featuring power from a 12 HP single-cylinder engine utilizing a chain drive to the rear wheels. The Gatts was somewhat unique in that the starter crank was located at the rear of the vehicle as opposed to the traditional front crank.
“The Gatts was among the many marques that produced a very limited number of vehicles for a short period of time, in this case being only one year,” the ad continues. “It is not known why vehicle production was limited to one year only, but one could surmise that the machine shop was kept busy with other endeavors considering the agricultural interests of Brown County, OH in the early days of the 1900s.”
The dealer notes that sometime in the 1950s, the Gatts was acquired by J. William Goodwin of Frankfort, Indiana. Goodwin’s collection reportedly included a 1932 and a 1934 Duesenberg, 1904 Haynes-Apperson, 1927 Bugatti, the only 1900 Frisbie ever made, a 1915 Briscoe, a 1914 Stutz Bearcat and, “in keeping with his profession as a funeral director,” a 1940 LaSalle hearse.
“The J. William Goodwin Auto Museum was housed in a building on the property of his funeral home.”
A letter from Gatts to Goodwin dated June 23, 1959, confirms that Gatts built only five cars, and sold three of them. The dealer adds that Goodwin’s grandson said the Gatts was sold in the early 1980s to the Imperial Palace collection in Las Vegas.
The seller reports that records show the car was then sold in the mid-1990s to a classic car dealership in Colorado and that the current owner bought the car there in 1995, and has kept the car in a humidity-controlled environment.
“Miller says the vehicle was black at the time of its sale to Imperial Palace, and it is believed that the present restoration in two-tone grey with red accents was performed while in their ownership.
“The Gatts still presents very nicely and appears to be mechanically sound,” the dealer adds.