- Designed and built by the prominent Chicago-based architect Henry K. Holsman
- So-called 'Piano' body supported by longitudinal leaf springs connecting the front and rear axles
- Twin cylinder engine, two-speed transmission and converted from rope to chain drive
The Holsman Automobile was what was known as a High-Wheeler - ie a vehicle designed to run along the muddy, rutted roads of the great plains of America in the early 20th century. The model was the brainchild of prominent Chicago architect Henry K. Holsman, who designed, manufactured and sold the vehicle between 1901 and 1911. At the time, the state of Illinois was renowned as the centre of motorcar invention, and Holsman himself has been credited with initiating the use of a reverse gear. The Holsman Automobiles became very popular and were exported to places as far away as New Zealand, and throughout their years of production remained true to the company motto, 'High Wheels Travel All Roads Because All Roads Are Made To Be Travelled By High wheels'.
Though one of the smaller companies producing High-Wheelers, Holsman was certainly one of the best known and most successful, and produced a total of around 2,500 examples, which were considered the Cadillacs of their day. 1909 was the peak year of High-Wheeler sales, during which no less than 41 companies were involved in their manufacture. However, their popularity waned as fast as it had risen, and by 1912 only four remained active and Holsman had already closed its doors.
The example on offer is resplendent in Black, inside and out, the colour of the period. It is believed to date from circa 1907 and features a so-called 'Piano' rather than earlier 'Curved' body, which is supported by longitudinal leaf springs that connect the front and rear axles. Power comes from a twin-cylinder engine that drives through a two-speed transmission that was originally adjoined to the axle via rope, but these days utilises chain drive. The Runabout has clearly been the subject of an extensive older restoration and was purchased in America by the vendor. A very unusual proposition it comes without paperwork.