World’s Oldest Four-Cylinder Car to be Offered at Bonhams’ Quail Lodge Sale


On August 17th in Carmel, California, an extremely rare, landmark automobile will be presented at auction by Bonhams. The 1895 Buffum 4-Cylinder Stanhope is the first Buffum automobile produced, the oldest four-cylinder car in the world, the oldest American car ever offered at auction, and the oldest gasoline-powered American car in private ownership.

Created by H.H. Buffum in Massachusetts, the Buffum autocar was a marvel of advanced engineering. Spanning a production period of just 13 years with only around 70 automobiles produced, Buffum cars were never plentiful but they were state-of-the-art. In addition to developing the very first four-cylinder vehicle, Buffum created the first cataloged production American racecar, and the world’s first production V8 automobile.

This particular vehicle – the first time it has ever been offered for sale to the public – is the precursor to the pioneering Buffum legacy and therefore one of the most historic automobiles in America, if not the world.

Displayed for decades at the Princeton Auto Museum in Massachusetts (one of the first auto museums in the country) and later at the Owl’s Head Transportation Museum in Maine, the car survives largely in original condition. And as one of the oldest functional cars in existence, it becomes ever more rare and unique when one considers that the number of pre-1897 American cars can be counted on one hand.

“As the world leaders in the sale of pioneering motorcars, Bonhams is delighted to offer a machine of such outright historical significance,” says Mark Osborne, Bonhams’ Head of Motoring. “It is our great pleasure to have been appointed to present this national treasure – the oldest American car ever offered at auction.”

Seldom does an opportunity to acquire such an important piece of history arise. As the sole-surviving product of one of America’s greatest automotive minds, this 19th Century motorcar is a machine of monumental importance.

This and many others cars of significance will be offered at the 2012 Bonhams Sale of Exceptional Motorcars, Motorcycles and Automobilia scheduled for Thursday and Friday, August 16th and 17th at a new, larger and much more accommodating venue on the existing Quail Lodge grounds in sunny Carmel Valley.  Please note that entry to the Bonhams previews and auctions does not require a ticket to The Quail: A Motorsports Gathering.

To register to bid, order a catalog, and to learn more about this renowned two-day annual event, visit


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