Blenheim, Ontario, CAN. November 5, 2007 -–Despite it’s recent popularity, the hybrid car is not a new invention – one need only look to the esteemed private collection of prominent Florida-based businessman and lifelong car enthusiast Al Wiseman for evidence.
Based in Tarpon Springs, Florida, Wiseman’s collection has been described as ‘one of the most interesting in the US’, thanks to its variety of historic experimental automobiles, motorbikes and scooters.
Included in this category is one of the world’s first purposely-built hybrids, a 1930 Rauch & Lang Gasoline-Electric Sedan
“When it comes to cars, I’ve always been fascinated with not only their styling, but also their technical innovation”, said Wiseman.
“I attended many museum closings when building the collection and was fortunate to stumble across many rare, one-of-a-kind motor cars, along with memorabilia – things not only I liked, but I thought other people would enjoy as well,” he added.
The words rare, unusual and odd spring to mind when it comes to Wiseman’s 1930 Rauch & Lang. Produced by General Electric and Rauch & Lang for a reported cost of $1 million, this car – regarded as the ‘most unusual automobile of the century’ – was specially commissioned by Colonel Edward Green, son of Hetty Green, otherwise known as the ‘Witch of Wall Street’. Mrs. Green was the wealthiest woman of her time in the US – although extremely frugal. This very quality led to the brief for the 1930 Rauch & Lang; her delay in finding a free medical clinic for Col. Green led to him having one leg amputated, thereby rendering him physically incapable of operating the three-pedal manual shift automobile of the day. The clutch-less 1930 Rauch & Lang provided the perfect solution. (Est. $100,000 – $150,000).
Wiseman’s 1930 Rauch & Lang is just one of many experimental vehicles set to be auctioned later this month as part of RM Auction’s “Al Wiseman Collection” event – an auction designed to help Wiseman pare down his sizable collection to a more manageable level. Eighty exquisite motor cars dating back to the late 1800s through to the mid 1900s will be offered at the November 30 / December 1 sale, as well as some 50 vintage scooters and motorbikes, and several hundred lots of fascinating memorabilia.
Another auction highlight for those who share Wiseman’s fascination for technical innovation, is the 1965 Chevrolet Corvette Cut-Away Autorama Display Car. Taken off the Chevrolet assembly line and built into an elaborate cut-away display car for the 1965 Motorama, modifications to this particular example saw all drive train components cut away to allow the observer opportunity to examine the inner mechanical workings of the engine, clutch, transmission, rear end and suspension, giving the appearance of a fully operating car
Other rare and unusual auction lots include a 1967 Amphicar Convertible with only 1,700 actual miles, bound to appeal to amphibious enthusiasts; a 1906 Success 1 cylinder, which despite its optimistic name, is one of only two surviving examples; a 1953 Paraplegic Scooter, one of the most interesting three-wheeled motorized applications and completely operated by hand controls; and a scarce 1943 Excelsior Welbike, commissioned by the British Government during World War II. The later was designed in such a way that is could be parachuted from a plane, unfolded and driven by the paratroopers once on the ground. As the troopers were instructed to destroy their bikes once no longer needed, very few remain.
For other collectors, like Wiseman, looking to downsize their collections, Wiseman is quick to recommend an auction house as opposed to private sale.
“Having sold some of my cars privately before, I appreciate the time and effort that goes into coordinating all the different aspects,” he said.
“Given my diverse collection, I understood the need to reach an equally diverse range of collectors, so I went with the specialists RM.
“The neat part is that they specialize in the sale of classic cars – they perform research into each car and can do a greater job in describing the cars and reaching the right people,” he added.
RM Auction’s “Al Wiseman Collection” event will be held on the Wiseman property, 2270 North Highland Ave, Tarpon Springs, Florida on November 30 and December 1, 2007. A preview of the auction will commence from 9am on November 29. Doors open on November 30 and December 1 from 9am, with the auction action getting underway from 10am each day.
Admission to the auction is by catalog only, which admits both the catalog holder and a guest. The full-color collectable catalog is available for $80 U.S. (plus shipping), by calling (800)-211-4371 or visiting www.rmauctions.com