During Locomobile’s brief, 33 year history, the company produced some of the finest cars motorcars available in America. Holding true to their slogan, “The Best Built Car in America” their hand-crafted, limited production motorcars appealed to a conservative and extremely wealthy clientele. The introduction of the Model 48 in 1911 proved very significant as it went on to become the company’s most successful model, surviving through the end of 1925. After the Model 48 had been officially discontinued, the Model 90 still shared much of the same architecture pioneered by the Model 48. Based on a conventional but exquisitely constructed chassis, the Model 48 was powered by a big 525 cubic inch side-valve inline six-cylinder. It was rated at 48 taxable horsepower, with actual output topping 100hp by the 1920s. Many of the powertrain components were cast in an expensive bronze alloy, and the engines proved extremely robust.
Owning a Locomobile was reserved for only the wealthiest of individual, with many of the most important names of the day on the roster of owners; Carnegie, Vanderbilt and Wrigley were all chauffeured in their magnificent Locomobiles. Put into perspective, our handsome subject car, a 1924 Model M-48, cost $9,500 when new. Compare that to a Ford Model T of the same year at just $265. One could have a veritable fleet of Model Ts for the cost of entry into the exclusive world of Locomobile ownership.
This fascinating Locomobile M-48 wears an elegant and formal Open Drive Limousine body designed by J. Frank de Causee for the Bridgeport Body Company. Most bodies, including this one, were built just down the road from the works at this highly regarded shop, though Locomobile did contract with a number of outside coachbuilders through the years but forbade contractors from applying their own coachbuilder tags. An imposing and grand machine, this Model 48 wears a high quality older restoration and has been enjoyed by the previous owners on a great many AACA tours. It presents in very good condition throughout, having remained under the care of one owner from 1963 to 2008, and showing just 25,560 miles which is believed to be accurate.
The restoration was sympathetically executed, and has been well-maintained since with very good dark blue paintwork on the main body, black fenders and subtle gold coach lines. The theme repeats on the wood spoked wheels which wear period appropriate black tires. A pair of spare tires are fitted to the rear, as to not impede ingress and egress to the cabin, in the process helping the car to look even longer than its 142” wheelbase already suggests. Fine quality polished nickel plating adorns the radiator, headlamps, and other details. The doors shut with impressive precision and exhibit excellent fit, indicative of the beautifully crafted coachwork as well as the impressive restoration.
The driver’s compartment is largely open, excepting the fixed roof panel. As expected with a chauffeur-driven limousine, the front is trimmed in hard-wearing black leather. The black button-style leather is very good, showing little wear in spite of the regular use this car has seen. The speedometer, incorporating a clock and odometer, is by Waltham while secondary instruments are by Westinghouse. A Locomobile patent tag is attached to the dash, showing this as car number 19124. Sills are stamped with body number 3393. Black leather door cards and kick panels are in good condition. The driver’s compartment presents as it should, businesslike and functional, and in excellent condition.
Rear passengers are protected by the elements in a fully enclosed compartment with roll up side glass and an interesting three-pane divider window. The compartment is trimmed in blue fabric and blue carpeting to complement the body. The large rear seat has room for at least three passengers, while a pair of jump seats stow in the floor. The cabin is opulently equipped with a pair of bud vases, grab handles, silk blinds, dual dome lamps, robe rail, and a rear Waltham clock. Passengers are also treated to dual running board lamps and a speaking tube for with which to bark orders at the chauffeur.
The huge six-cylinder engine produces a mighty 107 horsepower and a prodigious wave of torque. Locomobiles were renowned for their smooth, silent operation as well as outright power and this example is no exception. The engine is very well presented with finishes and detailing up to a very good standard, showing the car has been enjoyed but very well maintained. It remains in sound order, running well with sound mechanicals. It was awarded an AACA National First Prize in 1966, and has been exceptionally well preserved since, a testament to both the quality of the restoration as well as the quality of the Model 48. Few early American cars are as evocative or imposing as Locomobile. Belying the years since its restoration, this grand and important motorcar presents in wonderful condition, still very much showable, yet also an excellent choice for CCCA or AACA touring.