AS THE TWENTIETH CENTURY DAWNED, America shopped by mail order from the giant Sears Roebuck catalog for everything from houses, introduced in the 1908 catalog, to automobiles, announced in the Fall of 1908, and first sold in the 1909 big book. Touted as "So safe that a child could run it," and "Lowest in original cost -- lowest in upkeep cost," this "Business Man's Car" was offered for $395 with a ten-day trial period.
Built by the Lincoln Motor Car Works in Chicago from 1908-1911, the Sears Motor Buggy competed with Ford's Model T, but the Sears high-wheeler was never economically viable and was last offered in 1912. This classic horseless carriage -- seen on display at right in the Crawford Auto-Aviation Museum -- was tiller-steered, had elliptical spring suspension, friction pad brakes, and was powered by an air-cooled two-cylinder engine. Developing 12 hp for a top speed of about 25 mph, the mid-chassis engine transferred power to the rear wheels by a dual chain drive.
Runabout Ran Out
By 1910, there were five models (from G to L) ranging in price from $325 for the G to just under $500 for the L with standard equipment. Only about 3500 of these antique runabouts were sold, reportedly at a loss of $80,000 to Sears' Motor Division.
The antique 1908 Sears Motor Buggy in our June 18, 2005 auction is from the Donley Estate of New Milford, Pennsylvania, and was last driven, according to the family, around 1965. Stored in a dry garage, this one-owner classic was never restored. It comes with pages 4-30 of the original, oil-stained manual, and with bows for the top. The leather is in very good condition, the wood solid, but the rubber on the wheels is in poor condition. It will be sold in "as found" condition at 12:00 noon without reserve. Auction details on the Calendar.