The Regal Motor Car Company founded in Detroit, Michigan in 1908 quickly established a reputation for well-constructed and reliable automobiles. The early reputation came largely from the 1909 Regal “Plugger”, a Regal 30 that was driven from New York to San Francisco and other pioneering journeys, accompanied by feverish accounts from newspapers throughout the country. The Regal Model N Underslung Roadster introduced in 1911 priced at $900 re-defined Regal, and has sometimes later been described as “America’s first sports car”.
While Regal continued to build other existing models on conventional chassis, the Regal Model N Underslung Roadster was one of the first automobiles to adopt the innovative ‘underslung’ chassis first created by American in Indianapolis, Indiana. The design placed both axles above the frame, resulting in greater stability from a lower center of gravity. This was of great importance to many early motorists who feared tipping over, and also greatly enhanced the handling characteristics of automobiles built in this fashion.
The Underslung Roadster helped Regal achieve sales gains and establish a successful export trade, particularly to England, and was quickly followed by a Coupe in 1912 and a Touring car in 1913. In 1913, all three Underslung models were powered by a 200 c.i. 25 hp side-valve four-cylinder engine of the company’s own manufacture, with a three-speed sliding gear transmission, dual ignition, thermo-siphon cooling and two-wheel mechanical brakes. Other original equipment included high-grade Gray & Davis electric lights and nickel-plated trim – still a very new process. Familiar gas lamps were offered as an option, as were a top, windshield and speedometer.
This well-known and authentic 1913 Regal Model N Underslung Roadster was discovered in 1938 and owned personally for more than 60 years by Bud Cattlett, the late curator of the famed Harrah’s Automobile Collection. We are extremely pleased to offer this exceptional automobile, which has had only one other owner since 1999. That owner undertook a sympathetic restoration and continued to maintain the Regal to the same standard, as shown here. The radiator, hood and fenders are all dramatically finished in black with red coach stripes while the diminutive body tub, chassis and wheels are finished in dark grey, all in very good condition and the nickel-plated trim is exceptional. The patinated black buttoned leather reveals just the right amount of age and caring use, showing only some fading and cracks. The wooden dashboard exhibits only the most basic essentials: a Warner Auto-Meter speedometer/odometer and a sight glass oil indicator. The fuel tank and turtle deck are mounded to the frame immediately behind the body, with a single spare tire attached to the running board. The large windshield folds at the center, allowing for the top half to be folded down for ventilation even when the top is in place. The folding black fabric top is in very nice condition. Under the hood, the T-head four-cylinder engine is nicely detailed and presented.
This wonderfully authentic early American sports car, with its technically advanced underslung chassis, undersized presence and outsized history is eligible for Antique Automobile Club of America, Horseless Carriage Club and Nickel Era Touring Registry events and tours – and is sure to be a standout wherever it is driven. Only a very small number of these groundbreaking Regal Underslung automobiles still exist. This is the only one that also comes with a significant, known history in the hands of the man Bill Harrah called his own ‘car finder’.