Feb 26 2014

The 1909 Alco 40-HP Runabout Sold for $280,500 by Gooding & Company at Amelia Island

In May 2011, I  had the opportunity to visit the famous basement garage of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum. Among the many spectacular automobiles in the basement was a 1909 Alco Runabout.  This Alco is listed as the #10 Alco in our In Search of Alcos series.

Later in 2011, the car was acquired by its current owner who is auctioning it for sale at the Gooding & Company Amelia Auction Island on March 7, 2014. The Alco is expected to be sold for $300,000 to $400,000.

Update: The car was sold for $280,500.


Howard Kroplick

Above photo courtesy of Ron McQueeney, the Director/Photography of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway



Lot #:43

-One of Just 12 ALCOs Known to Exist
-Sympathetically Restored
-Built to an Unequalled Level of Quality
-Large Displacement Dual-Chain Drive
-Superb Example of a Centenarian Brass Era Automobile
-Former Display at Indianapolis Hall of Fame Museum

Chassis: 3634018
Engine: 142408

The Alco 40 HP Runabout

The American Locomotive Company, or ALCO, was founded in 1901 by the amalgamation of eight smaller railroad companies in the Eastern US. ALCO built many of the colossal steam engines that plowed across the country and was operating full throttle by 1905, when the decision was made to diversify and expand into the automobile market.True to their intentions, from 1905 to 1913, ALCO produced some of Americas most expensive, superior quality, reliable, and high- performance road vehicles. As a promotional boast, the company asserted that it took 19 months to build each car. To add to the marques mystique, it was declared that many of the components were manufactured from vanadium an anti-fatigue metal that led to the ALCO catchphrase It Stays New! Expense was no object and the locomotive- borne automobile was a combination of power and strength, to give it perfect balance and fitness for conquest of all roads. That motto came to include the race track when ALCOs own Henry Fortune Grant drove a race- prepared ALCO to 1909 and 1910 Vanderbilt Cup victories and competed in the Indianapolis 500 in 1911.The sticker price for an ALCO ran between $5,500 and $9,000, and when the company abruptly closed down its automobile production in 1913, it was calculated that even at these elevated prices, ALCO had lost $500 on every car it produced.

This Car

This 1909 ALCO 40 HP Runabout is now 105 years old and research has shown it to be one of as few as 12 surviving ALCO automobiles worldwide. However, this particular example is believed to be one of two or three surviving featuring the early dual-chain drive configuration, making it ultimately rare.Although the history of this automobile is uncertain for its first 50 years of ownership, it was purchased from Mr. Curtis L. Blake of Springfield, Massachusetts, on March 24, 1961, by Anton Hulman for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum. At that time, it was obvious that the automobile had been carefully and authentically restored, and was proudly displayed for many years of the museums ownership. The Runabout was then acquired by its current owner in 2011; and although the restoration is over 50 years old, the car remains in superior condition. The current owner has had the ALCO serviced and freshened, including a rebuild of the A coil and the wheels. In addition, the correct Solarclipse brass headlamps have been installed.The engine is beautifully detailed, finished in green with copper cooling lines and brass fittings. This lovely Runabout features original gauges and clock, and magnificent brass brightwork that includes the correct lantern suspended on the rear. Presented in blue-green paint with pinstriping and brass accents, it features tan leather seats with a beige canvas top, which protects the front passengers.This automobile is considered to be one of the highest quality vehicles of its era and, equipped with dual-chain drive, it is an artifact of great historical import and a remarkable example of the automotive Brass Era. Built over a century ago, when Taft was president and the average annual wage was $512, this ALCO is a grand survivor of the formative years of automobile history. Although it has spent much of its existence in a museum, this ALCO begs to be shown and is appropriate for tours and events throughout the world. As one of just a dozen known remaining examples of the marque, its next caretaker will count himself among a very select group of peers.

Price: $300,000- $400,000

From the Gooding & Company Amelia Island Auction

The Alco was purchased on March 24, 1961 from Curtis L. Blake of Springfield , Massachusetts by Anton Hulman.Curtis Blake, along with his brother Prestley, founded Friendly's.

"Curtis also participated in many AACA Glidden Tours, with a memorable one going through Seneca Falls, New York, in his chain-drive ALCO. "It's a great family hobby, because you can take your family on these trips. To this day, my now-65-year-old daughter says that those old car trips were the most fun she had, and she'll never forget them."


Mar 02 2014 George Bartunek 12:13 PM

If I recall my history correctly, in his early career Mr. Chrysler worked for the American Locomotive Company. and one has to wonder if he had the opportunity to work on the “Beast” or other Alcos.

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